- Amtrak officials announced last week that they are laying the groundwork for a possible 2017 selection of a developer for the renovation of Baltimore's Penn Station, The Baltimore Sun reported.
- The passenger railroad service said it has solicited qualifications from designers, engineers and other potential consultants who will provide their "vision" of how to best overhaul the inside of the station with modern amenities, make use of approximately 40,000 square feet of office space, revitalize the station's front plaza and develop the surrounding neighborhood.
- Although Amtrak has not released a cost estimate for the project, the renovation is expected to take Amtrak well beyond the $20 million it has spent on basic maintenance and repairs at the station during the last six years.
Rina Cutler, senior director of major stations planning and development for Amtrak , said the rail service's primary considerations in undertaking the renovation are "design, community involvement and financing." Amtrak officials said the design will also bring the station into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Amtrak needs "a partner who has the vision to see Penn Station as what it could be and should be" and called the station "an asset whose tremendous potential has been untapped for far too long."
Amtrak officials said they are exploring various financing options, which could mean that the project ends up being performed under a public-private partnership (P3). For example, Fengate Real Estate Assessment, in attendance with others at the bidders' meeting, said it would be interested in assisting with the financing using both banks and bonds.
Nearby Union Station in Washington, DC, is also in for a $500 million overhaul in the form of a new concourse. Amtrak is paying for most of the project, which, according to The Washington Post, should be open by 2019 or 2020. The station, which sees 37 million passengers annually, will get a police station, an extra 20,000 square feet of overall space, seating, boarding gates, new restrooms and a track-view Amtrak ClubAcela lounge. The station will also include Burnham Place, a mixed-use development with 500 hotel rooms, 1,300 residences, 1.5 million of commercial office space and 100,000 square feet of retail.
In another major rail station renovation plan, New York's Penn Station is in line for a $3 billion facelift as part of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $100 billion state infrastructure initiative. Developers will turn the historic post office next to Penn Station into a concourse and Cuomo said the remodeled station will "make the state for the next 100 years." In April, a pre-bid tour of Penn Station drew some of the biggest names in real estate, construction and finance, including Tishman Speyer, Related Cos., Skanska and Tutor Perini.