Metro to purchase Los Angeles Union Station

Metro headquarters sits directly east of the 38-acre site of Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Aerial photo by Gary Leonard

Metro headquarters sits directly east of the 38-acre site of Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Aerial photo by Gary Leonard

In closed session, the Metro Board of Directors voted Thursday afternoon to purchase Union Station for $75 million. Here’s the news release:

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today announced that it has successfully negotiated the purchase of Los Angeles Union Station from Catellus Operating Limited Partnership for $75 million, a move that sets the stage for future expansion of the “last of the great railway stations” built in North America.

The direct purchase includes 38 acres of land and 5.9 million square-feet of entitlements that provide Metro the right to build on the property and draw lease revenues from both transit operators and businesses. Currently, the station is home to Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro Red and Purple Lines, Metro Gold Line, L.A. FlyAway and numerous Metro and municipal bus lines serving Los Angeles County and beyond.  The station is also home to several new retail businesses.

The purchase enables Metro to better meet the station’s current and future transportation needs.  Union Station has experienced a boom in the number of transit patrons and others who travel through it on a daily basis.  Use of the station is expected to experience strong growth through a combination of factors, including planned construction of the Regional Connector transit project through downtown, the future Metro Silver Line express bus station on Patsaouras Transit Plaza, a growing retail presence and future high speed rail plans for Los Angeles.

The iconic Union Station is a nationally registered historic landmark.

The iconic Union Station is a nationally registered historic landmark.

“As Southern California’s largest public transportation hub, Los Angeles Union Station is absolutely critical to the current and future mobility of our region,” said L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Metro Board of Directors. “Our purchase of this historic station will enable us to make the needed investments to enable this facility to accommodate greater increases in transit ridership resulting from Measure R transit projects and anticipated future arrival of high speed rail.  We now have the ability to retain the historic nature of Union Station and prepare it to serve as a world-class 21st century transportation hub.”

Metro’s negotiations with the seller began in November 2010.  In the seller’s interest to conduct an expedited sale, Metro will purchase the station independently. The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has indicated an interest in partial ownership of the station as it continues efforts to bring high speed rail service to the region.

“Union Station is a critical transportation hub for the high-speed rail system, providing passenger access and intermodal connectivity,” said Roelof van Ark, CHSRA CEO. “The High-Speed Rail Authority has identified a significant amount for their participation in this purchase and we will be working with Metro to, ultimately, determine the details behind this partnership.”

The income generated from the deal supports a substantial portion of the station’s purchase price.  Metro already owns Union Station’s East Portal, the adjacent Metro Headquarters building and Patsaouras Transit Plaza.  Not included in the purchase agreement are Axis Union Station Apartments, the Metropolitan Water District Headquarters building or the office building in front Union Station on Alameda Street.

Following an expected April 2011 closing, Metro will review the station premises and plan for future transportation and development needs.  Metro will evaluate, among others, potential efforts to add and improve pedestrian flow through Union Station, parking, and bus capacity issues on Patsarouas Transit Plaza.

Due to the size of the property and accompanying entitlements, the purchase also presents new opportunities for joint development on the station’s 38 acres, which increases the potential for Metro to generate additional revenues on the developed property.
Built in 1939, Union Station is a nationally registered historic landmark.
For additional information about Metro, visit metro.net.

25 thoughts on “Metro to purchase Los Angeles Union Station

  1. Improvement in transportation system in Greater Los Angeles county is very essenetial to all angelenos and visitors. Union Station is a historical landmark. I just hope that metro board of directors start riding more frequently public transit, so they can have a good picture of what los angelenos need. more frequent bus services, a 24-hour rail services. more parking lots for carpool riders. Built light rail trains that run on all the freeways, every morning and afternoons freeways in Los angeles county are over congested maximum speed is 10 mph. Is so paintful to see people spend an average of 2 hours on the freeway in the morning and the afternoon. 4 hours every day.
    I could not agreed any more on the greyhound terminal, Please convince Greyhound to move over to Union Station.
    Thank you.

  2. Mr. McCready,

    Only a part of the funds which Metro receives from tax receipts and other sources are what are called ‘discretionary’ funds that can be used in whatever manner the Board directs. Much of the funding Metro receives is ‘programmed’ or required to be used for specific purposes and can not be spent elsewhere. In this case, the article itself indicates that “The income generated from the deal supports a substantial portion of the station’s purchase price.” Metro expects to make up the difference because “the purchase also presents new opportunities for joint development on the station’s 38 acres, which increases the potential for Metro to generate additional revenues on the developed property.” In the long run this purchase is expected to increase Metro’s funds, not decrease them.

  3. Dear ralph,

    When is the mta going to invest as much as $1 in buses that move, as opposed to a $75 million “historic” train station, $45 million in a “transit station” (el monte), and $30 million in a “division 10 maintenance yard”? None of these aforementioned things move people! Buses move people! Why doesn’t the metropolitan transportation agency invest any money into transportaion to move people, not buildings, not transit centers & maintenance yards, but buses that move people?!

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