Fed Reveals Revised $9B Plan for DC’s Union Station Makeover

New version allows for a private mixed-use development above rail yards

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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) and Amtrak have been working since 2012 on a plan to expand and modernize Union Station in Washington, D.C., to support current and future growth in rail service and operational needs.

Last week, FRA released 300 pages of revised plans for the station’s $8.8 billion renovation.

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The new plan includes adding a new train hall, expanding passenger capacity, upgrading concourses, widening the rail platforms, integrating the bus terminal and more, according to the FRA.

One of the big changes from a 2020 draft of the project is a large reduction in parking spaces. The new plan calls for up to 550 underground parking spaces, in place of the originally proposed six-story, 1,600-space parking garage, which drew criticism from the D.C. City Council for being too car-centric. The new plan also has a designated area for pick-up and drop-off traffic underground, as well as more access points for pedestrians and cyclists.  

The revised underground parking garage also makes room for a separate, $3 billion mixed-use project from developer Akridge, which owns the air rights above the rail yards. The project, known as Burnham Place, will be built above the rail yards behind the station and integrated into the station itself, according to the plans. The developer has been working with the FRA on its plan since last summer, and it will feature a mix of office, residential, retail and hotel space, as well as parks and plazas.  

To date, funding for the makeover has yet to be secured, but the project is a main contender for new federal infrastructure funds signed by President Biden in 2021, according to The Washington Post.

“Revenue and an expanded station require new sources of income to maintain and operate the station,” a spokesperson for the FRA said in a prepared statement. “FRA looks to the governments of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, and others to become funding partners for the project and to ensure the continued viability of the station.”

All involved expect it to be a slow process, with the design expected to take several years, followed by 13 years for construction, according to FRA estimates.

No developer has been named and plans are still ongoing, with the public able to provide comments and feedback at a public hearing on June 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Union Station.

Requests for comment from the FRA and USRC were not immediately returned.

Keith Loria can be reached at Kloria@commercialobserver.com.