Tampa plans to spend $5.2 million to fix up Union Station
TAMPA - Union Station, a 100-year-old train station north of downtown, is once again slated for millions of dollars in improvements. According to the recently released city budget, Tampa projects to provide $5.2 million by 2015 for improvements to the building at 601 N. Nebraska Ave. The train station has "severe moisture intrusion problems" and the city plans to improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, the budget states. The city also plans to renovate and replace "wood windows, terracotta, brick and precast structures. Extensive interior ceiling and wall repairs, interior/exterior painting and roof replacement are needed."The two-story, Italian Renaissance revival-style building opened May 15, 1912. The station brought citrus, tobacco and Northern speculators to Tampa. Among the celebrities who have come through the station: baseball star Mickey Mantle and actress Lupe Velez. The station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, served passengers through segregation, wars and the Great Depression. But it deteriorated through the years and was closed to the public in 1984. For years, Amtrak's passengers from Tampa used a temporary ticket office and waiting room in a prefabricated building next to Union Station's platforms. Ultimately, city and local historic preservationists got involved in renovating the station. It underwent a multimillion-dollar facelift and reopened in 1998. About 15 years after the prior restoration, "a lot of the things are at the end of their life cycle," said Jackson McQuigg, president of nonprofit group Friends of Tampa Union Station. "The city has done a good job taking care of the building over the years. But this is what happens when you deal with a historic structure." Now owned by the city, Union Station serves more than 140,000 Amtrak passengers each year, McQuigg said. The station's 100th anniversary celebration in May displayed everything from LEGO trains to a model Santa Fe NW2 to an actual train — an Amtrak Viewliner. People could walk through the Viewliner, listen to live music, see Union Station's original design and a check out a telegraph display.
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