Thursday, December 28, 2006

Phoenix talks of train station rebirth

[Source: Angela Cara Pancrazio, Arizona Republic] -- For more than two decades, the city has eyed the potential of Phoenix's Union Station. With all of its space and its Mission Revival architecture, the 1923 rail-passenger center could be a city centerpiece filled with shops, restaurants and artists, officials have proposed. That vision never came to fruition. The last train carrying passengers pulled out of the station in the mid-1990s. In recent years, the station has been inaccessible to the public. There's a security fence ringing the building because Sprint owns it and stores equipment in it.

But lately, with the renaissance of downtown Phoenix, Sprint and the city's Historic Preservation Office are talking about what is the best use for the building. "Now there's momentum for something to happen," said Barbara Stocklin, the city's historic preservation officer. From the beginning, Phoenix's Union Station was designed to be a high-profile building in the city's core, Stocklin said. "Downtown is at a crossroads and Sprint is at a crossroads - that's always good," Stocklin said. "If Sprint's interested in doing something else, it's good timing."

Sitting on Harrison Street at Fourth Avenue, the station borders the southwestern fringe of downtown's warehouse district. Over the past several years, the district has slowly reinvented itself with a handful of galleries, restaurants and lofts. "You could do just about anything with the station," Stocklin said. It could be restored for its original use, she said, as a commuter rail station and a transportation hub with buses and taxis. Four hundred and seventy-five feet long and 110 feet at its widest, the station has the potential to become a destination place, said Brian Kearney of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and could easily be a home for restaurants, a museum, galleries and retail. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]