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Union Station parking garage closes, prepares to bite the dust for office high-rise

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BMO Tower inches toward groundbreaking

A plaza with grass and trees next to the lobby of an office high-rise. The building has V-shaped columns supporting its glassy facade.
A rendering of the new tower slated for 210 S. Canal Street. A new parking garage will be built under the building’s landscaped plaza.
Riverside Investment & Development/Goettsch Partners

A garage located across the street from Chicago Union Station will permanently close on September 30. Once demolished, Riverside Investment & Development will erect a 700-foot-tall skyscraper anchored by BMO Financial Group in its place.

The Amtrak-owned concrete structure at 210 S. Canal Street currently serves a mix of transient and monthly parkers and had room for up to 700 cars—although it was rarely full, recalls Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

“Since there wasn’t a validation program or discount parking for our customers, it’s impossible to know with any certainty how many of our customers (or Metra’s) have been parking there,” Magliari tells Curbed Chicago.

For drivers who did rely on the soon-to-close garage, Amtrak published a list of four alternative parking options located within a two-block radius of the station. The underground pedway that connects Union Station to the CTA transit center next to the garage will remain open during demolition and construction.

The site’s upcoming office tower is on track to break ground later this year and welcome tenants in 2022. Designed by Goettsch Partners, the transit-oriented development features two setbacks and a glassy facade supported by V-shaped columns at ground level. The project includes a 1.5-acre park situated above 400 parking spaces.

A high-rise standing next to a park with an oval path. It is next to a bus terminal and an older train station building. A row of tall buildings and a large body of water is visible in the distance.
The new tower rise next to the existing Union Station transit center. The same developers are planning to renovate the upper levels of the Union Station head house into 400 hotels room (left).
Riverside Investment & Development/Goettsch Partners

Riverside Investment & Development and codeveloper Convexity Properties also plan to redevelop Union Station’s historic Beaux Arts head house building. The team has zoning approval to build a single-story rooftop addition and covert the building’s upper levels into two hotels with a total of 400 guest rooms. Work is currently underway on a new food hall and pedestrian entrance along Clinton Street.

Union Station’s garage isn’t the only downtown parking structure biting the dust for redevelopment. Crews are currently in the process of taking down a multilevel garage at the corner of Randolph Wabash. A new 300-foot-tall high-rise with 190 rental units, 24 condominiums, and 70 parking spaces will rise in its place.

Meanwhile, other developments continue to gobble up the remaining surface lots in River North and the South Loop. Despite a net loss in spaces, it seems downtown Chicago is still oversupplied when it comes to its parking.

A recent report by Crain’s found that garage owners are struggling to attract short-term transient parkers in the age of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber. The massive Millennium Lakeside Garage under Maggie Daley Park is so underused that its owners are leasing spots to car dealerships and exploring new uses including warehouse space, self-storage, or even urban farming.

Union Station

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