THREATENED: Petition Opposes Amtrak’s Plan to Demolish Chicago Union Station Power House

Chicago Union Station Power House, Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, in 1931. Photo Credit: Darris Lee Harris

The iconic Art Deco Chicago Union Station Power House is threatened with demolition.

This streamlined architectural masterpiece was designed in 1931 by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, one of Chicago’s greatest architecture firms. They designed many of Chicago’s most iconic and beloved landmark buildings including Chicago Union Station, Wrigley Building, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Lyric Opera House, Merchandise Mart, and the Old Chicago Main Post Office. The Chicago Union Station Power House should take its honored place among these world-class buildings.

To avoid maintenance, Amtrak wants to spend $13 million dollars to demolish it and replace it with a parking lot or storage shed! There is a better way. Just sell it!

One of Chicago’s most experienced and successful developers wants to buy and restore the long-vacant Chicago Union Station Power House.

Their restoration plans for the historic building includes a tech data center and possibly a café along the Chicago River. It’s located directly across from the “78”, the largest high-tech R&D development in the Midwest.

If sold, it would be a powerful win-win. Amtrak would save $13 million dollars, avoid maintenance, and earn money from the sale. These funds could better be used for true priorities like upgrading train stations to meet ADA requirements. (Chicago Sun-Times, Amtrak reverses course,1/20/20)

But stubbornly Amtrak is still pushing hard for demolition. But there’s a hitch.

In order for Amtrak to use federal tax-payer funds to demolish a historic building, they must be able to claim during the Section 106 hearing on February 3, 2021 that they have exhausted all other options to save this significant National Register-eligible and Chicago Landmark-eligible building.

Perhaps this helps explains why despite frequent and repeated outreach for over a year, Amtrak stubbornly refuses to consider any purchase offers, allow a meeting or even allow a site visit!

Amtrak may be able to ignore a few lonely voices, but they will have no choice but to listen when we all speak together!

“Whether its future holds a second life as a data center, an addition to the city’s expanding Riverwalk or something even more distinctive, the building should be saved for future generations to enjoy, Ward Miller said, noting that London’s Tate Modern Museum was once the Bankside Power Station.” (Chicago Sun-Times, Iconic South Loop power station should be saved, 10/9/19)

At the February 3rd hearing, Preservation Chicago strongly defended the importance of the historic Union Station Power House and countered many of the claims stated by Amtrak’s development team.

Preservation Chicago applauds 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez for this strong leadership in this effort and for writing letters to the City of Chicago and Amtrak confirming his support for a Chicago Landmark Designation for the Chicago Union Station Power house and a preservation-sensitive outcome for the building.

With your help, the voice of the people will be heard. This petition will ensure that the sale and restoration option can’t be ignored at the hearing!

Sign the petition to Save the Chicago Union Station Power House!


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