ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Union Station could soon get a transformation.
The one-time railroad terminal turned into a retail center has been struggling for many years. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/Nnasfn ) reported Thursday that a sale is nearing completion, following a bidding process.
Two suburban St. Louis companies, Lodging Hospitality Management and THF Realty, are working to buy Union Station and redevelop the site in a $50 million renovation that includes some public financing. THF is owned by Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams.
The sale is under contract. Final details are being worked out over the next few months. Specifics about the project have not been released.
St. Louis Development Corp. is considering a $5 million allocation of federal New Markets Tax Credits to help the project.
Union Station opened in 1894 and was for years the key entry point in St. Louis for people arriving by train. It was named a national historic landmark in 1976 but fell into bankruptcy. It reemerged as a tourist destination with stores and restaurants in 1985. But in recent years, many stores have become vacant and the condition of the mall has deteriorated.
Rodney Crim, executive director of St. Louis Development Corp., was excited about the potential to reinvigorate the sprawling station.
"We think it's a great asset in the city and a great asset in the region," Crim said.
Lodging Hospitality Management's chairman was out of the country and unreachable for comment. THF's president did not respond to interview requests.
The property's current owner, Union Station Holdings LLC, put the landmark up for sale last fall. The complex includes the 539-room Marriott Hotel and 160,000 square feet of retail space.
The runner-up redevelopment plan was submitted by Summit Development Group and Lawrence Group. Their idea: Turn the majority of the retail space into an indoor water park.
"Our vision was to do something that we thought was transformational for Union Station and create a true regional destination," Lawrence Group president Steve Smith said.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com