Union Station hits key milestone
The Kansas City Star
Almost 16 years after the historic bistate sales tax vote in 1996 to renovate the historic Union Station, the grand building has turned the corner financially, a victory worth celebrating for this entire region.
The most recent success story at the restored train station occurred this week, when officials announced it is 100 percent leased.
It took voters on both sides of the state line — from Johnson, Jackson, Clay and Platte counties — to get this far. The bistate tax raised almost $120 million over several years before ending, as promised. The private sector pumped in more money. The funds paid to renovate the structure and add Science City.
That last attraction hasn’t worked out as well as planned, but even now significant attempts are being made to put in new, science-based attractions there.
Meanwhile, an aggressive campaign to lease office space in the building has brought in high-profile tenants to the station. Nearby, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity recently opened.
Unfortunately, voters have not embraced another bistate sales tax since 1996. Every so often, another regional tax plan is floated — such as for transit or the arts — only to fade away.
The first tax showed what this region could do, collectively, to improve the region’s quality of life. One day soon, we hope, some more brave and forward-thinking civic and elected officials will decide to work together to boost the future of the entire metropolitan area.