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Is the Essential Character of L.A.'s Landmark Union Station in Some Kind of Danger?

Union Station in downtown Los Angeles
Union Station in downtown Los Angeles

Nothing is certain yet, but we can already see a major brouhaha brewing over the future plans for Union Station if it's sold to the California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The much-beloved Union Station is actually not the property of the city of Los Angeles, but owned by a private, Denver-based real estate company called ProLogis. ProLogis is looking to sell various assets, and Union Station is one of them.

The MTA is looking to buy the historical landmark with the help of the California High-Speed Rail Authority -- the authority announced on Wednesday it would cough up more than $30 million for a joint purchase of the train station.

Union Station is a gorgeous 1939 Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco-style building that's been featured in numerous movies.

Already, according to the Associated Press, California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark is floating the idea of building a new station at the site or possibly altering the historical landmark.

Interior of Union Station
Interior of Union Station

"Van Ark said the authority was looking into several options for going in and out of the station that will cause the least environmental impact," the AP reports, "including the possibility of building a new station or adapting Union Station to accommodate high-speed rail."

Cindy Olnick, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Conservancy, told the AP: "Incorporating high-speed rail into a train station makes sense, but it has to be done in a way that respects the historic character of Union Station."

Union Station lovers and historical preservation groups will undoubtedly keep a close eye on how things develop. Will the L.A. City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa be as vigilant? Villaraigosa is a board member of the MTA.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.