Doug Dean, the Marriott's general manager, said the hotel renovation will restore some of the inn's original 1890s configuration. He noted that the original front desk was off the atrium, remarkable for its glass-block floor. All 539 rooms, including the 67 in the station's original "headhouse," will be redone. Dean declined to specify the overall cost, saying it remained "a moving target."The expansion will extend the hotel’s meeting and restaurant space into the western portion of Union Station’s retail area, concentrating retail shops along the eastern concourse. My hope is that this will result in fewer low-quality retailers. Union Station needs to keep the few remaining quality stores it still has - such as the Cardinals Clubhouse - boot the bad stores, and work hard to pull in good new ones like it once had.
Four meeting rooms and a restaurant will be built near the new lobby. One floor above, the existing restaurant will be used mainly for private events. Beginning with a ballroom freshening done by November, the renovation project will be completed in late 2011, he said.
Frances Percich, Union Station's marketing manager, said "serious" discussions are under way with two retailers, including one that would be new to St. Louis. She declined to name them. Percich said the station will continue to market itself as a tourist attraction with numerous spring and summer events.I have no problem with Union Station being a tourist-focused destination, but there's no reason why it can't appeal to locals, especially those who live and work downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
It seems to me that the various entities that have managed Union Station over the years have always underestimated its appeal to local residents. I think there is a decent segment of the population who would like to visit Union Station periodically for dining or shopping, but are completely turned off by the one problem that Union Station has never addressed:
LACK OF FREE PARKING.
Simply validating parking for visitors who dine or make purchases at Union Station would have a tremendous impact on the number of locals who spend time there.