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L.A. County transit authority buys Union Station for $75 million

The deal for the national landmark built in 1939 includes 38 acres and development rights to 5.9 million square feet of property around the station. It clears the way for the expansion of transit operations.

February 25, 2011|By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
  • Built in 1939, Union Station is a national landmark and one of the last great railway facilities in the United States. It serves Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro subway lines, Gold Line light-rail trains, transit buses and FlyAway coaches that serve Los Angeles International Airport.
Built in 1939, Union Station is a national landmark and one of the last great… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles County transportation officials approved an agreement Thursday to buy historic Union Station in downtown L.A. for $75 million — a purchase that will clear the way for the expansion of transit operations and new development on the property.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board decided to buy the rail hub from Catellus Operating Limited Partnership, which is owned by ProLogis based in Colorado. The deal, which is expected to close in 30 days, includes 38 acres and development rights to 5.9 million square feet of property around the station.

"Union Station is absolutely critical to the current and future mobility of our region," said county Supervisor Don Knabe, chairman of the MTA board. "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."

MTA officials wanted control of the station to help accommodate an expected surge in passengers from the proposed Westside subway extension, a planned downtown connector for the region's light-rail lines, increased bus service and the state's high-speed rail system if it is built.

California High-Speed Rail Authority officials have discussed setting aside tens of millions of dollars so the agency can become a partner in the station acquisition. The authority still needs approvals from the state public works board and the California Transportation Commission.

"We will be working with MTA to ultimately determine the details behind this partnership," said Roelof van Ark, the bullet train authority's chief executive.

Built in 1939, Union Station is a national landmark and one of the last great railway facilities in the United States. It serves Amtrak, Metrolink, Metro subway lines, Gold Line light-rail trains, transit buses and FlyAway coaches that serve Los Angeles International Airport.

MTA officials say that the current commercial uses on the property, such as retail outlets and restaurants, generate about $6 million a year in revenue — an amount that will increase as the site is developed.

dan.weikel@latimes.com

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