Ideas for Downtown LA: Using Grand Central Terminal NYC as a Model for LA Union Station

Post WWII, Grand Central Terminal faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now relevant as one of New York's top destinations

Post WWII, Grand Central Terminal faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now more relevant than ever as one of New York’s top destinations — a path LA Union Station will hopefully follow

I just got back to LA after spending a week in New York. Every time I visit America’s largest urban center, I am inspired by the incredible urbanism that defines the city. The infrastructure and built environment, mix of architecture, diversity of businesses, and strong pedestrian culture never ceases to amaze me. For us in LA, as we continue to press for change — improving our own urbanism in a city still dominated by a suburban, car-oriented mentality — it would behoove us to look at successful models and examples from other cities that could be applied to Downtown LA. One of those prime examples is Grand Central Terminal in Midtown at 42nd Street, which has experienced an amazing turnaround from irrelevancy and near demolition in the 1960s to one of the greatest rail stations in the world today.

Currently, the public is encouraged to provide feedback for the LA Union Station Master Plan, where hired architect firms Grimshaw — with extensive experience in designing rail stations — and LA-based Gruen Associates will oversee and design the new master plan with a summer 2014 completion time line. Ultimately, the goal is to elevate the position of Union Station to a much higher level and make it as relevant as possible to more and more Angelenos as we continue to expand our rail network. As I described in a much earlier post from March 2011, I would like to see Union Station become a destination in itself, and not just a big transfer point. How that will be accomplished depends on putting in a lot more businesses (restaurants and shops) into the station itself like Grand Central Terminal, which has 68 shops including a beautiful flagship Apple store.

Grand Central Terminal has been successfully rebranded and marketed as a destination, which I believe LA Union Station can become as well.

The beautiful opal-faced, brass clock that sits in the middle of Grand Central Terminal is now the station's official logo and brand in a smart marketing move to give the station a stronger identity

The beautiful opal-faced, brass clock that sits in the middle of Grand Central Terminal is now the station’s official logo and brand in a smart marketing move to give the station a stronger identity

The famous clock inside Grand Central Terminal has been smartly marketed as the station's brand and logo

The famous clock inside Grand Central Terminal has been smartly marketed as the station’s brand and logo

Grand Central Terminal now has The Shops at Grand Central, which has made the station a shopping and dining destination

Grand Central Terminal has been developing The Shops at Grand Central, which has made the station a shopping and dining destination with 68 stores

A directory allows visitors to navigate the station more easily, which is something we will need at LA Union Station in the near future

A directory allows visitors to navigate the station more easily, which is something we will need at LA Union Station in the near future

The Shops at Grand Central can give us an idea what the future of LA Union Station can be like as well by making it into a destination and not just a transfer point:

One of the largest and most unique Apple stores inside Grand Central Terminal

One of the largest and most unique Apple stores is inside Grand Central Terminal

I would like to see an Apple concept like this inside LA Union Station

I would like to see an Apple concept like this inside LA Union Station

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Corridors through the station are not just blank walls but lined with shops

Corridors through the station are not just blank walls but lined with shops

Small shops like this Swatch store line the corridors

Small shops like this Swatch store line the corridors

Cursive New York selling hand bags and other items

Cursive New York selling hand bags and other items

Origins

Origins cosmetics

The Art of Shaving

The Art of Shaving

MAC Cosmetics

MAC Cosmetics

Tumi luggage

Tumi luggage

Jo Malone

Jo Malone

Papyrus

Papyrus

Financier bakery

Financier bakery

Even a children's store

Kidding Around toy store

Banana Republic

Banana Republic

Adding more stores, implementing smart branding and easy navigation will turn LA Union Station into a destination and not just a transfer point

Adding more stores, implementing smart branding and easy navigation will turn LA Union Station into a destination and not just a transfer point

48 Responses to Ideas for Downtown LA: Using Grand Central Terminal NYC as a Model for LA Union Station

  1. If you’ve ever been to Japan every train station is basically a mini urban center.

      • yes exactly. Everything is underground but bustling with life.

          • David Klappholz

            We live in LA 2-3 months per year and near NYC the rest. We’ve jut come back from a month in LA and I just spent a day in Manhattan. One of the really attractive things about LA is that it doesn’t have neighborhoods full of very tall buildings and nothing else…and the fact that many of its buildings, both commercial and domestic, are incredibly colorful, which isn’t the case in Manhattan, or in the outer boroughs — where I was born and grew up. (The Hollywood Hills don’t hurt either.)

            I’m not sure, however, how making Union Station more attractive to visit would get most Angelenos to get there by public transportation or to do more walking around town. My guess is that future developments will (have to) include lots of parking lots/space.

  2. most places in the world except LA…at least it feels that way.

  3. David Klappholz

    First of all, Union Station IS already a destination in itself for some of us who use public transportation in LA. It’s a beautiful building and already has a few useful food shops.

    Second, you left out pictures of the incredible lower level food court at Grand Central.

    One big difference between the two locations is that Grand Central is much larger than Union Station, but, since Metro has bought a great deal additional space around the station, introducing interesting businesses should certainly be possible. (There’s also, of course, some currently unused space in Union Station that could be used for this purpose.)

  4. The old restaurant Harvey Restaurant space is available! Hopefully someone will come and turn it into a all out culinary destination, also would be cool to have a Union Station Farmers Market or Flea Market.

  5. Union Station is a destination for those who appreciate its architecture and design, but it’s not currently a place where most feel compelled to hang out if they’re not taking a train or using the subway. I use L.A Transit regularly and go into Union Station, but there’s little at the station right now to grab me and other visitors and encourage them to stay and explore. Grand Central has been able to do this by strategically adding dining and shopping, turning itself into a must see New York attraction. The addition of of fast casual dining options to Union Station is welcome, but this is a basic requirement of a modern rail station. As it stands, Union station has tons of untapped potential.

    Also, although Union Station is smaller than Grand Central, it also has a lot of underutilized space. The Old ticketing lobby could be something really great – a shopping or dining destination perhaps? It’s silly for it to remain closed off and reserved for special events. The Old Harvey House Restaurant is also a gem though I hear it’s being actively marketed to potential restaurant concepts.

    The station also has some great outdoor courtyard space that could be much better utilized than it currently is, especially considering L.A’s mild climate. What about outdoor kiosks, dining or entertainment? I think the Master Plan will be a great way to really take Union Station to the next level as it truly is the rail transit hub of the west coast. The redevelopment of the station must also coincide with the 101 Park Cap, which will prove essential when tying Union Station to the bulk of downtown that sits just across the freeway. I’m excited to see what the master plan ultimately leads to.

  6. So basically build a mall at Union station.

  7. I’m not completely sold on the retail/shopping idea at Union Station. There’s much less space here, and I think that food would certainly be a better use. I don’t mean it should be completely retail-less, but turning Union Station into a Mall is not going to be the best use of the space, in my opinion.

    That being said, there is lots of development potential around the station, on Metro property, which is included in this study, and there could certainly be retail potential on the Union Station grounds. It just doesn’t seem feasible for inside the station itself (and not to mention there is so much untapped retail potential around the rest of DTLA).

  8. We had a delicious dinner at Traxx last Saturday evening, as we do fairly regularly, so, for us at least, Union Station is already a destination. But we think it’s a little unrealistic to expect it to become a mini-version of Grand Central Terminal.

    There are a huge number of people who pass through Grand Central Terminal every day. Dozens of commuter trains and several subway lines provide an enormous amount of foot traffic. We don’t have the transportation infrastructure that would provide enough people to support that kind of development.

    At Grand Central, only people who are changing subway lines can avoid walking through their hallways and past their shops. Further, the many thousands of people who work near Grand Central in those high-rises are another source of traffic and revenue — there’s no equivalent near Union Station.

    While there is a lot of unused space in Union Station — the old ticketing lobby, the Fred Harvey restaurant, the area south of the Amtrak ticketing/baggage check, and other behind-the-scenes space not now visible — it’s not nearly as huge as Grand Central.

    We’ve spent hours and dollars at Grand Central and at Washington D.C.’s Union Station, and we look forward to Union Station’s expansion. We hope we’ll have more reasons than Traxx to spend money there, but we don’t expect anything like Grand Central to emerge from the planning.

  9. NYC’s Grand Central WAS an underutilized train station (by New York standards) until all the recent revitalization. Last I went, about 8-9 years or so ago, it was nothing like what it is now. And even now, Penn Station is still the major NYC train terminal when it comes to subway, regional railway, Amtrak trains. The main point here is that NYC (along with most other transit dominated cities in the world) has more than one major railway station that serves it… its generally required for urban cores as spread apart as Manhattan. Other transit heavy American cities have these (Boston, Chicago, SF) to ensure heavy rail has entry from different directions into the urban core. And for those that have traveled in Europe and Japan, you know that those cities have multiple train stations (London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo have at least 5 or more).

    My main point is that Los Angeles requires this kind of thinking in getting regional rail (whether its light rail or heavy rail) to gain a foothold in our metropolis and extended metro area. We need to explore multiple format rail stations at the southwest end of DTLA and perhaps a couple more in Mid-City and Santa Monica. While I love Union Station for its beauty and transport connections, it will never be utilized as much as it needs to for the sort of development you all are talking about (ala Japan or NYC). Thus, why not spread the wealth in creating a real regional transport network that brings together multiple rail/trolley/bus formats under one roof in such a spread out city like LA? I believe this is what Metro and the Union Station master plan should include.

    • New York, and most other cities, only have multiple rail hubs not because of some long-range smart urban planning, but simply because competitor railroads were loathe to share space. Boston, Philly, and Chicago had similar issues. Only cities with where railroads decided to form a “united” terminal company to handle all railroads’ traffic at a “union” terminal were able to make do with a single station, hence LA’s (and, say, Washington’s) Union Station.

  10. To Shabaz – even SF, while having greater population density, does not have any major transportation hub as such.
    Another thing to keep in mind, is that with the Regional Connector being built to AVOID having to go through Union Station to transfer, it would appear that we have already developed a reason to not overdevelop Union Station, or at least not until all those neighboring properties have occupants, be they residential, office, or ?

  11. Another major problem – Union Station is completely isolated – an island with extreme poor connectivity to the rest of the neighborhood. This begins immediately with the parking lots, extends with the poor surroundings and of course is exacerbated with the freeways.

    • David Klappholz

      What do you mean by “the rest of the neighborhood.” Except for Philippe’s and Olvera Street there is no neighborhood and Union Station is well connected to both of these — a short walk to either. If the LA Mall came back there would be a bit more neighborhood. If Metro’s newly purchased area around Union Station is properly developed, there will be lots more neighborhood…and then there’s the Cornfield, which is supposed to be improved. (BTW, for those of us who walk in LA, Little Tokyo is also part of the neighborhood, as is much of downtown, but, then who walks in LA?)

      • downtown resident

        I walk everywhere. Its actually really nice. I think the question should be: why don’t more people walk? Nice weather, less stress, exercise…

      • You have to define neighborhood. I don’t think of Little Tokyo as in the same neighborhood as Chinatown or Union Station. For me, as a downtown resident – DTLA kinda ends at the 101. You could make an argument for Chinatown, but to me it feels “downtown adjacent”.

        • Only in LA are there “adjacents,” and boy is the term misused — the number of people who live in buildings that are Beverly Hills adjacent is probably four times the number of people who live in Beverly Hills.

          As I said before, for those not into walking — or not into walking more than a block or two, Union Station’s “neighborhood” includes only Philppe’s — and a perhaps a few other not-so-iconic restaurants — and Olvera Street.

          • Union Station, Chinatown and Olvera Street are most definitely part of Downtown LA. Hell the original city was founded in this section of the city, but you would never know since it’s severed from the bulk of the central core by the freeway, which is both a physical and psychological barrier for most pedestrians. The Union Station Master Plan, the Cornfield development, and the 101 Cap Park would ultimately help unify the area. It wouldn’t hurt to have the Civic Center redevelop a little as well. The neighborhood around Union Station has some great bones, but it was largely left out of the redevelopment wave that most of DTLA experienced. Projects like Jia in Chinatown will hopefully change that.

          • David Klappholz

            @Lawrence: So is Little Tokyo as far as we LA walkers are concerned. It also happens to be on all DTLA maps that I’ve seen.

            @Brigham: The Woori market in Little Tokyo is wonderful, and it, Chinatown, Olvera Street, and most of DTLA are easily accessed from Union Station by light rail — or on foot in the case of Olvera Street. (There are also numerous Metro buses to get around these areas.)

  12. I agree with Oscar, Union Station is isolated. And we can all begin with the parking lots. When I traveled in the Philippines (in the Makati Area), there are Light Rail stations literally right next to the shopping malls and high-rise residences. It works because people have the NEED to use these stations for going to/from WORK, HOME, SHOPPING, etc. These stations are the portals bewtween primary and secondary uses we commute to every day. New York’s Grand Central Station works because it has the density, tons of tourists, and commuters who travel among the various NEARBY employment centers in and around New York City. As for Los Angeles? It is anemic when it comes density and lacks the “centralness” when employment centers are so spread-out in our sprawled out communities.

    We shouldn’t really be comparing Union Station to New York’s Grand Central because the density, employment center areas, and urban sprawl characteristics are vastly different. It’s ok to WANT Union Station to be like Grand Central, but it’s going to take a REGIONAL approach AS WELL AS a LOCAL approach.

    In my opinion, first of all, there needs to be more residential/mixed-use highrises. I’m not talking about plain cookie-cutter 4-6 stories. They need to be 30+ floors or higher. And the parking lots next to Union Station have to go! They must go subterranean because land is limited and every space at and above grade must be fully utilized to its best economic potential. You can’t have this with parked cars.

    • @John G. I’ve been to Europe, Asia, and Australia. More importantly, I was born and grew up in Brooklyn; started going into Manhattan by myself on the subway starting at age 10 — mostly to go to the main branch of the NYPL, to read issues of the NYT from the Civil War era — great interest at the time — and to go to museums; I also went to a number of low-end antiques shows and started collecting stereo slides of NYC in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

      Nowadays when we’re in Manhattan we often just spend the day walking around, sometimes exploring neighborhoods that we didn’t know very well, e.g., Spanish Harlem. (I know, that’s east of La Brea and terribly dangerous to be near.)

      Sure LA could be more “connected,” but I was told that LA isn’t a walking city, wasn’t sure I believed it, started taking Metro buses and trains, and started walking all over — and I’m not at all athletic. I found out that LA is 10-15 walking cities, and that walking between walking cities can also be fun.

      LA might be more interesting to me if it were more connected, but maybe not; I’m very happy spending lots of time there the way it is right now.

  13. John G – You’re right in that Union Station cannot be compared to GCT because it is isolated while the area next to GCT is hyper dense. However, like you said in the post as well as the ENTIRE point of my blog post is that we should ASPIRE and WANT Union Station to eventually become a vibrant station in a vibrant neighborhood.

    The Mosaic apartment complex next door was a HUGE waste. What could have been a much higher density project (hello, right next to the largest transit hub in the city, Union Station?) turned out to be a low-rise let down. To add insult to injury, Mosaic has zero commercial space on the ground floor (meaning it’s not mixed-use), which doesn’t help activate the community whatsoever.

    I know it’s completely impossible right now, but I hope that eventually Mosaic is torn down and rebuilt correctly. This time, it would have a large retail component, possibly a small boutique hotel, and residential.

  14. GCT may have almost been demolished, but it was never irrelevant. It was just a valuable piece of air rights real estate owned by a bankrupt railroad.

  15. In time all these 6 story structures with no retail will get torn down for much usable mixed use buildings.

  16. I agree with you 100% Brigham, the Mosaic was a terrible plan.

  17. @Matt D – there was a time when GCT was largely irrelevant, which is partially why it got so close to being torn down. By the 60’s and 70’s train travel had dwindled substantially and there was little economic incentive for the railroads to maintain the stations especially with Amtrak service being centered primarily on Penn Station nearby.

    • The station building was irrelevant, the tracks and platforms were as important as ever.

      Penn Station’s building was demolished, but it’s rail infrastructure was untouched and indeed the Pennsylvania touted the fact that commuters from Long Island and New Jersey were not inconvenienced by the destruction of the building.

      As people fled New York in the 70s to the suburbs, Grand Central was still the way those people from the northern suburbs and Connecticut were able to get to their jobs in the city. And even at its nadir, it was still something held in high esteem; Eastman Kodak was proud of its long association with the building through its iconic and well-publicized Colorama, which sat where the Apple Store sits today.

  18. Great conversation. Good article, Mr. Brigham! Very thought provoking. And what I meant by the neighborhood, was DTLA in general and the immediate surrounding environments in specific. Yes, Olvera St. is an easy walk from Union Station, but that doesn’t mean it is well connected. Also, have you ever tried to walk from Union Station to LA Historic park? An easy 10-15 minute walk, but pretty much a lifeless walk and nothing to lead you there unless you were specifically looking for that park. But like I said earlier, it’s a problem that begins with the parking lots, lack of immediate retail, and the freeway.

    • David Klappholz

      There’s also the issue that the park isn’t really worth vising; hopefully the planned makeover will help.

      BTW, re “Yes, Olvera St. is an easy walk from Union Station, but that doesn’t mean it is well connected: Olvera St is right across the street from Union Station; how much more connected could it be?

      • @ David Klappholz,

        I see both yours and Oscar’s point of view. But I will still have to side with Oscar. I just want to ask you something. Have you ever traveled overseas to Europe or Asia? The reason why I ask is because I wanted to know if you have ever observed their urban cities and communities. In my opinion, parking lots and streets are urban fabric killers and to you from an observer’s point of it’s no big deal. But I have made many empirical observations and have always observed the functionality of spatial arrangements between living spaces, employment centers, transit, stores, restaurants, etc. I can tell you that even if two things are “near” each doesn’t mean they “connect”. What I mean by connect is the ease of accessibility, the sense of exploration, and the “pull” or attraction among various directions. A street or parking lot is one of the most common things in LA. It’s not a sense of place to venture to unless there is a need to go to A SPECIFIC PLACE. But how can a traveler from Union Station know where to go if they have never been there? Must everything be Googled and pre-arranged? What sense of exploration is there if there is limited development and one already knows what they are nearby and doesn’t feel like going there.

        When I was in Shanghai I remember eating at McDonalds in a very busy urban center. There was a glass door exit on the side of the dining room that led to a small hallway with stairs leading up. As I exited this door and went up, there was a large shopping area upstairs that was clearly not visible outside McDonalds. That to me is “connectedness”. Even in Makati Philippines one can live in a residential hi-rise, go downstairs to the lobby and cross an elevated walkway to a mall, and take light rail from a station ALL WITHOUT CROSSING THE BUSY STREETS.

        I know Los Angeles has it’s own uniqueness and should not be compared to other cities. But we have a long way to go if we truly want the sustainable and walkable communities we are trying to seek…

  19. Extending the planned Broadway Streetcar route to actually reach Union Station (it is currently planned to stop quite a way away) would be a key to enticing DTLA residents (like me) to go to the Station for shopping, eating, whatever.

  20. Bingo Lawrence, Oscar, and John G. The problem with most of LA is that things are spread out and diluted, which makes walking a chore instead of fun and exciting in a compact, dense and multi-use urban city like Shanghai, Madrid, or New York. There are def large parts of Downtown LA that are becoming more and more exciting and interesting to walk through (7th Street, Spring St, parts of Figueroa by FIGat7th, etc.).

    The challenge we face is connecting those pockets of activities, forming one large coherent/contiguous urban experience. The issue with LA has always been the inconvenience and choppy experience of getting from point A to B to C. You can technically walk in anywhere, including “downtown” Buena Park made up exclusively of strip malls and parking lots. But will it be ENJOYABLE and INTERESTING? That’s the key question. How do we make the walking experience around Union Station as ENJOYABLE as possible? That should be our goal.

  21. It’s very naive to believe in the saying “build it and they will come.” Nope, sorry, it’s not that easy. Making a go of it is tough enough even when a store’s location is prime. But opening a retail business on some side street or on any site that isn’t known for luring in a large number of serious (repeat: serious) shoppers is asking for trouble.

    How can anyone assume that placing stores in the Mosaic apartment buildings would have been financially feasible? Or doing the same thing in the nearby Union Station, where both the number of pedestrians streaming through per hour and the number of them being committed, ideal shoppers is limited.

    People who make the assumption of “build it and they will come” should try opening and managing a small store of their own in some of the obscure or quiet corners of downtown.

    This story is a reminder of what I’m talking about, and some of the comments under it, if they’re accurate, sadly back that up:

    http://la.eater.com/archives/2013/01/16/lights_are_off_nobody_is_home_at_babycakes_downtown.php#reader_comments

  22. Brigham, do you or anyone else know the numbers of people that pass thru Grand Central vs the numbers that pass thru Union Station? Foot traffic in Union Station may still not be at the point where it can supports a lot of retail spaces like with Grand Central.

    • Union Station ~ 60,000 a day (projected to be 100,000 by 2019)

      Grand Central ~ 750,000 a day

      However, to put things into perspective, one of the most popular shopping/dining destinations in LA is (unfortunately) The Grove at 3rd and Fairfax with 18 million visitors a year. Union Station has approx 22 million a year (36 million by 2019). With at least 4 million more people (the size of Los Angeles proper) than The Grove, I think Union Station would be able to support a lot more than what is there right now (only 7 stores).

  23. More power to those seeking to grow LA Union Station’s role; here’s one East Coast Kid pulling for you and for that growth.

    But allow me to quibble with the portion of the photo caption that suggests Grand Central “faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers,” even as I concur that it “was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now more relevant than ever as one of New York’s top destinations — a path LA Union Station will hopefully follow.”

    A day after this excellent DTLA Rising analysis, we at Railway age wrote, in part:

    “[Grand Central Terminal] never faltered in or lost its primary role of handling rail passengers, even in the darkest days of passenger rail’s decline (or the physical threat of being torn asunder, as Penn Station was across town). That continuity by itself makes it stand out from so many of its worthy U.S. brethren, who slumped precipitously before being rescued (in LA or D.C.) or, in too many cases, became simply “dead history” relics.”

    Apologies if this appears to be troll-like commentary or otherwise self-promoting or argumentative; we in fact concur with much/most of what DTLA Rising has written involving both GCT and LA Union Station (a gorgeous place, and one that, as others note, is nowhere near its potential). Go, LA.

    Douglas John Bowen
    Managing Editor
    Railway Age Magazine
    New York

    • Thank you for your input Doug. I can only hope that LA Union Station will reach its full potential as we begin to flesh out our Union Station Master Plan. I stand by my assertion that Grand Central Terminal is a great model to follow.

  24. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see a TV commercial or scene shot in the usually-vacant ticket sales area of LAUS. I’ll bet some of Hollywood’s location scouts would be quite annoyed if that area were remodeled for permanent use.
    Any discussion of NY Grand Central often brings up NY Penn Station; it’s almost 50 years later, and there are still New Yorkers who haven’t forgotten the destruction of that landmark. Of course if someone had suggested a tax increase for publicly funded preservation of Penn Station, one can imagine how well that would have gone over.
    And regarding

  25. @ MINNY M,

    Although you make some reasonable points about the posit of “build it and they will come”, I wouldn’t say “Nope” to that unless your making posits on your own. You are correct that “it’s not that easy” but it’s also NOT IMPOSSIBLE. You see, what’s important is WHAT GET’S BUILT and the SPATIAL ARRANGEMENTS of those things that get’s built. Have you read Jane Jacob’s book “The Death And Life of Great American Cities”? You should read about her empircal observations about MIXED-USE developments and HIGH-DENSITY communities. Here in Los Angeles, from my perspective, we have been building, but the WRONG KIND of building. Low-density projects only promote more sprawl and decentralizes urban cores where the LACK OF DENSITY causes low customer turn-out (like the article you hyperlink). It’s also about how we zone our land. One of the biggest culprits I have seen is LAND-USE SEPARATION, basically the segregation of how we develop our land (commercial only, residential only, etc.). This set-up only forces us to COMMUTE between primary uses (where we work, live, go to church, etc.) and secondary uses (where we shop, eat, hang-out, etc.). MIXED-USE developments allow residents above retail to use the businesses down on the first floor, IF THEY ARE THE RIGHT KINDS OF BUSINESSES the community needs (like a grocery store, barbershop, etc.). And although a building can’t encapsulate every service and need for it’s in-house residents, another mixed-use project next door will only add the area’s walkability. This walkability reduces the “short trips” consumated by cars that makes up alot of the congestion on the streets (as referenced by many traffic studies).

    I can go on much further, but is beyond the scope of this comments section. I think if we BUILD RIGHT, then of course THEY WILL COME! There is nothing naive about this at all. It’s happening right now all over the world!!!

  26. They need to put stores that will make sense there, maybe a barbershop, a baggage store, a trimana, maybe a tourist shop like they have at the airport. Think LAX.

    • Sebastian,

      Good point about LAX (a transportation hub like Union Station). In my opinion, and no offense to you, THAT’S JUST THINKING SMALL.

      Speaking of airports, did you know that –

      – Frankfurt Airport have employees spend 15% of their household income at the airport’s shops and service facilities and has the world’s LARGEST AIRPORT CLINIC.

      – Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County has a 420 bedroom hotel in its MAIN CONCOURSE

      – Munich Airport has ITS OWN HOSPITAL.

      – Amsterdam Schipol has a Dutch master’s Gallery

      – Beijing has several banks within the terminal building

      – Stockholm’s Arlanda aiport solemnized marriages and officiated over 450 eddings in 2008 in the vast chapel located WITHIN the terminal

      – Aeroports de Paris established a REAL ESTATE DIVISION in 2003 to manage landside commercial activities under the purview of the airport.

      – Other airports have but in place: Trade zones, customs free zones, golf courses, child and day care centers, factory outlet sources, and fitness centers

      RESOURCE: Airport Business Law, Ruwantissa Abeyratne (2009).

      I agree with Brigham, there is so much we can do to position and elevate Los Angeles Union Station to a much higher level. We must stop thinking of Union Station as a SPECIFIC-USE zone (mainly as a sole transportation hub) and model it so that it can INTEGRATE itself not only for the local community, but for the ENTIRE REGION. What I mean by the entire region is to not only provide goods and services for the commuters, but for locals as well. It’s really hard to do this when you have neighborhood councils and EIR (Environmental Impact Report) scoping meetings full of NIMBYs who may not share in this vision (this is from my observations). I mean, here we are in southern California still complaining about 4-6 story mixed-use projects being too massive; all the while the whole world is moving at a much faster pace leaving us in the dust clouds. I may seem to exaggerate, but no Los Angelino knows this unless they have traveled out there themselves…

  27. The new-yet-to-open LAX Tom Bradley Terminal is on the right track at least when it comes to retail and dining options.

    http://la.racked.com/archives/2012/12/05/kitson_to_hermes_major_retail_therapy_coming_soon_to_lax.php

  28. David Klappholz

    If you want to find out more about the differences between Union Station and Grand Central, have a look at

    http://www.nytimes.com/video/2013/01/18/nyregion/100000002009351/the-secrets-of-grand-central.html

    and the quite lengthy article referred to.

  29. LA does have a Grand-Central Market in downtown about 5 minutes away from Union Station I really hope to see more improvements at Union Station which include more modern shops, and better amenities for commuters, and train travelers!! I believe Union Station was built in 1939 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Station_(Los_Angeles)

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