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Metro Confirms Talks to Buy Union Station

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, January 07, 2011, at 03:07PM
Union Station Eric Richardson

The 1939 Union Station building (bottom left) is located just across the railroad tracks from Metro's headquarters at One Gateway Plaza (top right).

Metro today confirmed what blogdowntown first sniffed out back in December: the transit agency is in talks to buy Los Angeles' historic Union Station.

A potential partner in the purchase is the California High-Speed Rail project, which would need easements to build the station facilities it would require.

Metro currently owns the East Portal to the station, as well as the transit plaza and the agency's One Gateway Plaza headquarters. Easements allow Metro, Amtrak and Metrolink to operate trains on the site.

Roger Moliere, Metro's head of Real Property Management & Development, said that the purchase is one that the transit agency has been considering for years.

"Clearly, it's a natural fit for us as a transit operator," he said. "[Union Station is] going to expand whether high-speed rail comes or not."

While a final purchase price is going to be dependent on how negotiations play out, Moliere said that the transit agency's general fiscal condition doesn't really play into this purchase.

"A big part of it pays for itself," he explained, citing income on the property from leases to retail and other transit operators.

The site is also full of development potential.

"It's actually 38 acres," Moliere said, "with five million square feet of entitlements."

If the purchase is to go forward, it will appear on the agenda for the February meeting of Metro's Board of Directors.

This isn't the first time that Metro — or at least one of its predecessors — has tried to buy the station. On July 17, 1980, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing the Southern California Rapid Transit District, Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles to jointly purchase the station. Despite years of effort, that sale was never completed.

At the time, the estimated price tag was only $18 million.

Downtown News was first to report the news of Moliere's confirmation).

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