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.
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Categories: Policy & Funding, Projects

25 replies

  1. Greyhound at or near Union Station is a no brainier unless the downtown street car or the Regional Connector line can transport Greyhound passengers to Union Station.

    Also, need more food stands in Union Station.


  2. Why do none of the stories on this sale report the prior sale history? Didn’t Catellus buy it in the first place from a public entity not that long ago? Who was that seller, and what was the sale price then?


  3. I agree with others; Union Station should become a transit hub for all transit companies, including Greyhound. It makes just perfect sense to have all forms of transit to be centered in one particular area.

    In that mind however, there really needs to be another, say a “West LA Union Station” near LAX. Not only is the West LA practically a empty void, Chicago is planning to bring Amtrak directly to O’Hare to make air-to-rail transit possible like it has proven to be a success in places like Frankfurt and Paris Charles d’Gaulle. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a high speed rail also passing by LAX so we can get rid of those short-haul commuter flights to San Jose and San Diego?


  4. Rodney,

    Catellus is the descendent company of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads’ real-estate arm(s). It bought out Union Pacific’s share of Union Station many years ago.

    A little Wikipedia search will answer your questions.


  5. $75 million! There’s $75 million that WILL NOT BE GOING FOR MTA BUS IMPROVEMENTS! And bus lines and service are being cut? Maybe MTA is all about buying things that DO NOT MOVE! At the rate they are going, the MTA bus passengers will NOT BE MOVING EITHER!


  6. I couldn’t disagree more with John McCready.

    This isn’t $75 million towards nothing; this is $75 million towards ensuring that Los Angeles will have better control of a historic, beautiful and increasingly crowded transit hub.

    Union Station is already an extremely important part of Los Angeles transit, and it will be even more important when the Regional Connector and the bullet train are both built.

    The station has been enhanced even further with the new retail which has been added, and there are opportunities for more improvements.