Partners Sought for St. Paul Union Depot Transit Hub

Requests for proposals and qualifications have been issued in an attempt to secure private partners to develop and manage Union Depot in St. Paul, which is being transformed into a multi-modal transit hub.

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) said Friday that it's seeking private partners to develop and manage the Union Depot in St. Paul-which is in the process of being transformed into a state-of-the art transit hub.

One of the partners being sought is a bicycle center developer or operator to build out, operate, and manage a full-service bicycle center within Union Depot.

When construction on Union Depot is completed at the end of 2012, the 290,000-square-foot facility, which sits on a 33-acre site, will bring together riders of Amtrak trains, the Central Corridor light-rail line, Metro Transit bus routes, and Jefferson Lines and Greyhound intercity and regional bus lines-plus bicyclists and pedestrians. Future regional transit ways and a planned high-speed rail service to Chicago also will stop there.

The hub will feature secure bicycle storage, showers, and lockers for commuters. There is also space for bicycle repair, community education, and retail.

On Friday, the RCRRA issued two requests for proposals and a request for qualifications. In addition to looking for a bicycle center developer, the agency also wants a property manager to take on general facility management, building operations and maintenance, cleaning, and security.

Another partner being sought is a firm to develop and manage a retail concept for Union Depot-and to establish and promote events and cultural programming that will attract people to it and downtown St. Paul. In its request, the RCRRA said that it wants qualifications from “developers, innovative retail and programming strategists, and small tenant marketplace operators.” This partner will be tasked with securing tenants for space that's available for lease.

Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction is leading the Union Depot renovation. It was expected to be a $243 million project, but RCRRA spokesman Josh Collins told Twin Cities Business on Monday that some elements of the total project cost have come in under budget so a new, slightly reduced total cost figure will likely be announced in the coming weeks.

The project received $35 million in federal stimulus funds in February 2010-and a total of $124.3 million has been secured from various federal sources. Another $13.7 million in state bonds has been allocated, and $51.5 million has been expended for the project through an RCRRA tax levy.

Approximately 300 local laborers are currently working on the Union Depot job site each day, Collins said.

The Union Depot is located in downtown St. Paul's historic Lowertown area, a vibrant neighborhood along the Mississippi River. It was built between 1918 and 1923 on the site of an earlier train station, which was destroyed by a fire in 1915. Prior to the renovation, the southern part of the property was occupied and used by the U.S. Postal Service. The northern section contains condos and restaurants, which will remain following the renovation.