It’s being called “St. Paul’s Living Room,” a place where people come together to say ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ and so much more. After it was built in 1923, the Union Depot served nearly 300 trains and 20,000 daily passengers. The Depot stopped passenger rail in 1971 and parts of the building were sold off to different businesses. In 2002, the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) created a task force to study different options and locations for new rail service within the capital city. The most logical venue turned out to be the Union Depot. Once the RCRRA purchased the necessary parts of the depot building, the $243 million renovations could begin.
Opening tomorrow, the new Union Depot becomes a state-of-the-art multimodal regional transportation hub, with Amtrak, Jefferson Lines and Metro Transit bus service and taxis, the 2014 opening of the Central Corridor Light Rail line and future high-speed rail service to Chicago, as well as retail and restaurant offerings. The Depot is also a place for people to gather, with its 24,000-sqaure-foot “waiting room” and two outdoor plazas. Public art commissioned by the RCRRA and created by four artists (two from Minnesota) decorate the interior.
Grand opening festivities kick off tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. with special remarks from Senator Amy Klobuchar and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Then family-friendly activities continue throughout the day. Kids can take pictures with train-themed photo stand-ins and even Thomas the Train himself (courtesy of TPT). Learn the Light Rail Shuffle and other fun dances. Meet Winter Carnival royalty. Hit a baseball like the St. Paul Saints. Check out some friends from the U of M Raptor Center. Meet Snoopy as his statue is unveiled. Taste food from Lowertown restaurants. And then stay for family movie night, with Elf showing from 5-7 p.m. (Come back December 14 for A Christmas Story and December 21 for The Polar Express.) Welcome to St. Paul’s Living Room.