Union Station

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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Union Station

Post by trailerkid » Wed Mar 03, 2004 1:54 pm

Housecleaning at the station?

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit ... 089188.htm
[quote]Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Area taxpayers made a substantial, justified investment in restoring Union Station. But there has never been enough genuine science or enough entertainment in the historic building. The beautiful station consistently lacks a vital feature needed to sustain it: people.

Union Station, to date, has failed its public investors. That must change.

From the beginning of the restoration effort in 1996, leaders haven't succeeded in attracting real experts who know how to run successful educational or entertainment venues. As a result, attendance hasn't met expectations.

Area taxpayers took a tremendous leap of faith by approving a bistate tax to restore Union Station. But this potentially powerful civic asset has been a continual underperformer. Even now, no bold new plan exists that might convince taxpayers a turnaround is imminent or even on the drawing board.

The building's science and entertainment options have never met the projections, despite the contribution of $118 million in local taxes to a $250 million-plus project.

Amid all the talk of revamping Science City and delivering more entertainment options, the station lacks a team with proven professional talent. Why?

The Union Station board owes the public answers. Hiring new talent would go a long way toward reassuring the public that positive changes are on the way.

The public expects a management team with excellent backgrounds in entertainment businesses, people who know how to bring in “wowâ€

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by LyRiCaL GanGsTa » Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:12 pm

Exactly, this problem is so typical to Kansas City. Is it nepotism? Payoffs? It's like City & Govt. leaders KNOW that they can run things poorly here and still get away with it. Public apathy in this place is sickening, nobody has to answer to anyone. The 2 out-of-towners ( see Bistate link in DT Stadium thread) summed it up nicely when they said this city sweeps hard discussion and tough issues of failure under the rug.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by rxlexi » Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:39 pm

ok yes there are some intense management problems that need to be fixed at Union Station, and I agree that someone needs to step up and change things there. But I still think that part of the problem is that people just don't use it...what's so wrong with Union Station? I love it! I love eating there, I love just sitting in that grand hall and enjoying the atmosphere, I love parking there and milling around and going for a run up through PVP. Science City isn't THAT bad, in fact it's marginally fun; if I were a kid I'd prolly love the place. One can buy a Station Membership for like $50 that includes endless uses of SC and the adjoining museum. I haven't checked out the theaters yet but always want to, many of their movies look reasonably interesting. Go to dinner at Pierponts and then see movie at CC. WHY don't people go down there and enjoy what we already have? Yes, it will be wonderful when someone figures out where they're really going to take the place, and the Post Office move in etc will be wonderful, but it's already one of KC's crown jewels, in my eyes, and deserves to be used and enjoyed right now. The metro could be using this place like I and others do. Kansas City needs to stop complaining that Union Station is purely a failure...it is not (at least not entirely), and it definitely does add a fantastic asset to the entire metro area.
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by trailerkid » Wed Mar 03, 2004 6:48 pm

rxlexi wrote:Science City isn't THAT bad, in fact it's marginally fun

This is exactly the problem. Union Station is an impressive, great, massive building. But there is NO VISION! You are basically saying it is a mediocre attraction that people should patronize more. Mediocre attractions do not cut it (i.e. KC Zoo). Union Station should be a grand attraction, not a mediocre one and I think that is why people are upset.

Here are a few ideas:
--Partner with Fox 4 News to broadcast a daily newscast with a studio inside the Grand Hall.
--Concentrate efforts for Union Station as a major transportation center for commuter rail and Amtrak.
--Schedule more events inside the station including art fairs, public speakers, brown bag musicians and local meetings/summits.
--Overhaul Science City with a new educational "destination" that attracts visitors regionally or even nationally.
--Partner with familiar commercial brands to operate retail in the station (i.e. 810 WHB Store--Chiefs, Royals, KU/MU merch; Food Court with Bo Ling's Express, Goodcent's, Starbuck's, and Gate's; Rainy Day Books at the Station)

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by UMKCroo » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:14 pm

Those are really great ideas trailer, but they will only add to the buildings "current" greatness. I have to agree with RX, i love the place. I use the station frequently, whether it is to get a cup of cofee, have dinner, check out one of the exhibits or just read the paper. I really dont understand why EVERYONE thinks the place is such a failure. And, guess what? I am not the only one who enjoys it! What is going to make it "not a failure?" A freakin rollercoaster? I really cant find anything wrong with the place, the only addition i would like to see is public transit coming in and out of there.

In addition, articles like the one is the star today only add to the problem. Ignorant joco'ers who have never stepped foot in the place read that and think to themselves, "what a failure, thats what happens when i vote on a bistate tax and give money to Jackson county." The problem is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, sure it could be better, but so can everything. The city should always be trying to keep their facilities on the cutting edge.
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by rxlexi » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:47 pm

Those are some good ideas trailer...my personal favorite would be some kind of KC history/sports or fountain (!) museum in there. Any of those would be very interesting and fun. But the issue is, yes it's a grand magnifecent building. And that should be enough to make it worthwile to at least SOME people to spend some time there. Throw in a some live music, like you mentioned trailer, and US would already be, to me, a great destination and entertaining place to spend time. What's wrong with heading down to enjoy the architecture and history and feeling of the place...as well as people watching with some coffee if we can get some people down there? What;s wrong with just sitting and wasting away in that beauty and KC atmosphere. Oh well...
Science City is good enough that I won't bitch about it too much, that was all I was saying. It's a kids museum/play place and for that it works well in my eyes. Add some intersting exhibits in the little side museum, as they're already starting to do, and hey! Union Station starts looking pretty reasonable, if not profitable. As a side note, I'd love to see it become the regional transit hub..hahaha transit hub in KC in my dreams...eh there's always hope.
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by rxlexi » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:49 pm

I should add that I would love to see some really good coffee in there; a Latteland expansion would be grrreat. And while they're at it, bring on the Gates too!
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by trailerkid » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:31 pm

rxlexi wrote:What's wrong with heading down to enjoy the architecture and history and feeling of the place...as well as people watching with some coffee if we can get some people down there? What;s wrong with just sitting and wasting away in that beauty and KC atmosphere.

There is nothing wrong with this at all. My dad loved going to Union Station just for the atmosphere, but in today's capitalistic society it does not attract enough for profitability. Attractions need to be added to draw people in.

We need to admit that Science City is a misguided failure and move on. The point is that any one of us could probably guide Union Station with more creativity and excitement than the current leadership. There is potential and we need more than just the building itself.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by QueSi2Opie » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:43 pm

UMKCroo wrote:Ignorant joco'ers who have never stepped foot in the place read that and think to themselves, "what a failure, thats what happens when i vote on a bistate tax and give money to Jackson county."


This ignorant JOCO'er has been to Science City once, the City Extreme Screen three times, the Hollywood Special Effects exhibit and the Titantic exhibit at the Exhibit Hall, and have gone to the restaurants and shops several times. Science City is a complete joke and a mockery of our intelligence. I DON'T recommend it to ANYONE, unless they have kids between the ages of 3 - 9 years old. If I want to see science and technology, I go to the St. Louis Science Museum, Exploration Place in Wichita, or the Cosmosphere in Hutchison.

Most people don't go because word of mouth...hell, I'm guilty of tellin' people to save their money and not go to Science City. However, I always highly recommend the theaters, traveling exhibits and restaurants at Union Station (all are seperate cost from Science City). It's much cheaper to take your children to Kalidescope, Wonderscope, or the Children's Museum of KC. At least those exhibits work most the time.

KC can be proud of a few of their museums which include the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Steamboat Arabia Museum, the Museums at 18th & Vine (although the American Jazz Museum Library needs more resources), and the Toy & Miniature Museum. These are great museums, but they still lack in the attendance department. People in KC would jus' rather stuff their fat faces with food, spend all their money at sporting events, casinos, and at the AMC...then afterwards they complain,"Kansas City is boring!"
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by GRID » Thu Mar 04, 2004 12:25 am

UMKCroo wrote:In addition, articles like the one is the star today only add to the problem. Ignorant joco'ers who have never stepped foot in the place read that and think to themselves, "what a failure, thats what happens when i vote on a bistate tax and give money to Jackson county." The problem is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, sure it could be better, but so can everything. The city should always be trying to keep their facilities on the cutting edge.


QueSi2Opie wrote:People in KC would jus' rather stuff their fat faces with food, spend all their money at sporting events, casinos, and at the AMC...then afterwards they complain,"Kansas City is boring!"


So true. We have to face it, KC people DON'T GET OUT, they just bitch.

anyway.

I knew from the start that the museum would fail when they chose the KC Museum people to develop Science City instead of bringing in a national reputable firm to do it. Then when I saw the prices for the museum and the fact that the museum had to make enough profit to maintain an incredible building like Union Station, I knew that thing did not have a chance. Most museums have to be subsidized just to support themselves, let alone a very expensive building that is not even the same building the museum is in.

But I won't complain. This is what it took to get the station restored and KC now has one hell of an awesome building. Thank god we didn't destroy the building itself to put in the Museum. That museum annex turned out to be a blessing IMO.

But still, KC could have done better than it did!!!!!!

Just about everybody I know has never gone to the theaters there. You won’t find a single StL person who has never seen on Omimax or Planetarium show at the StL Science Center. Like 18th & Vine, Liberty Memorial, or any other KC attraction, KC people pretty much ignore it and then when they fail, they jump on the anti this and that bandwagon.

If 400k people go to Science City and 100k are school trips and 200k are tourists and 50k are repeat visitors like my family who vistit the station rather often, then you have 50k from a town of over two million people going to the station every year.

Metro KC is partly to blame here.

Anyway, that building is just awesome. It is not a failure. We need to fix it’s attractions, but it’s not a failure. There are things that can be done.

I think they should put a huge model railroad of a mini KC in the north waiting room like the one on display in Chicago. It could have scale models of Downtown, Crown Center, Worlds of Fun, KCK, OP, etc.

I think they need to improve the Science Museum and let it only have to fund itself instead of the entire station so we can get ticket prices down and improve exhibits.

The station itself should be subsidized by the city, county, bistate or whatever way there is to finance a public building.

A Metropolitan History Museum should be built by a major developer of large scale urban museums. This museum would represent the metropolitan area and the states of Missouri and Kansas. We could the sell discount packages like most cities do for all the museums in that area.

Steamboat Arabia
Science City
Metropolitan History
Jazz
NLBM
Liberty Memorial

But getting the local people to stop slamming and bashing a city they really know nothing about is the hardest part about living in KC.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by dangerboy » Thu Mar 04, 2004 10:30 am

Aaah the irony of KC politics. Bistate promoters bent over backwards to make Union Station an independent entity and ensure suburban voters that their money wouldn't be touched by those supposedly corrupt politicians in the KCMO City Hall or the Jackson County Courthouse. And now Union Station isn't accountable to anyone.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by rxlexi » Thu Mar 04, 2004 2:20 pm

But getting the local people to stop slamming and bashing a city they really know nothing about is the hardest part about living in KC.

- so true, so very sadly true.
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by staubio » Thu Mar 04, 2004 2:28 pm

rxlexi wrote:But getting the local people to stop slamming and bashing a city they really know nothing about is the hardest part about living in KC.

- so true, so very sadly true.


I agree that the phenomenon is one of our biggest problems, but I don't think getting them to stop or wising them up is that difficult. I've brought a few people 180 on Kansas City. It is all about showcasing your excitment and positive attitude and making people experience things. If someone sees enthusiasm, they get curious.

I always thought it was amazing that people would travel outside of KC to do things that they could do here and they don't know about. Lets let them know. Lets take people to some of our great places. It is all about framing it in a positive light. I'll never be able to experience everything that is available to me here, but I'm going to do my best to take in as much as I can and support what I can. When I do, I'm going to bring others with me.

Spread the love. Let people know you are excited. Tell them what is going on. Encourage them to check things out. Eventually, they'll do it and the ball is rolling.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by UMKCroo » Thu Mar 04, 2004 6:30 pm

Staubio, excellent point! This is how i try to look at it. Everytime i have go to family functions (comprised mostly of joco'ers) i try to inform everyone, because they are ignorant! I dont mean this in a bad way, they just are completely oblivious to what is happeneing in KCMO. And, somehow i am know the "expert" on KC. HA! They have a stereotype because they read articles in the star about how bad union station is, how bad the schools are, how bad the crime is etc. It really is amazing how oblivious people are to what is REALLY happeneing in this city!!

But, in reality, i guess i cant blame them. So that is why you have to try and inform them, and as staubio said it gets the ball rolling. I have a friend coming in town tonight, and i told some other friends we are going downtown for dinner and some drinks, and my friends laughed and said, "whats downtown?" HA
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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by snramsey » Fri Mar 05, 2004 11:46 am

I'm one of the ones that did a 180 on this great city - 5 years ago I escaped throwing words out like, "never coming back"...and here I am. Kansas City, when we shed a little light on it, offers every amenity of any great city in it's own KC way. I agree with these two, educating others is the way to quell the doubts; going for the root of the problem often resolves it.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by LyRiCaL GanGsTa » Thu Apr 08, 2004 1:14 am

Image

Look at the front of Union Station when it was first built, that is awesome! Sometime ago a few idiots said, "hey let's remove that awesome obelisk and pedestrian mall and put in a bigger surface parking lot!" Can you imagine a cool pedestrian mall there now that butts up right next to the awesome fountain they recently installed? ( the fountain that you can't really walk up to because the idiots put the Pershing thoroughfare on either side of the fountain so you risk your life walking up to it and there isn't anywhere to stand right next to it) Wouldn't it be great to have all of this walkable neauty in fron of Union Station? Move the thoroughfare over, bring back this obelisk and pedestrain mall & REMOVE the 100 stupid-ass surface parking stalls that wreck the entire front of MAGNIFICENT UNION STATION!
Last edited by LyRiCaL GanGsTa on Thu Apr 08, 2004 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by carfreekc » Thu Apr 08, 2004 2:51 am

snramsey wrote:I'm one of the ones that did a 180 on this great city - 5 years ago I escaped throwing words out like, "never coming back"...and here I am.


Ha, I have to get in line behind you! When I left for Denver in 1996, I didn't think I would ever voluntarily come back to KC...four years later, I wanted to come home.

One of the main things that caused a shift in my thinking was Union Station. When I left, the place was still a wreck. I remember the public open house after Robert Altman filmed there. Part of the station was fixed up for Altman's Kansas City movie. The rest of it was falling apart. The roof was leaking onto the sawdust covering the floor. It was immensely depressing and, to me, a symbol of what was wrong with KC. We had magnificence, and we let it rot. I had no faith that we would ever restore Union Station.

And while I was in Denver, KC restored Union Station. I never thought I would see that. I still get little goosebumps when I go there, that I'm able to stand in its restored glory. It still makes me smile.

So three years after I moved back, the novelty of the restored station still hasn't quite worn off for me. It's still so cool to be able to meet up with friends "under the clock." I don't go there a ton, and I wish we'd get a better restaurant in the center so it would serve as our living room, our public square.

I'm so with LyRiCaL GanGsTa: put the pedestrians back in front of the station! Connect the station with the cool fountain and Liberty Memorial. That should be our city's front lawn. We really don't have a great public square; we have some great parks, but no really great civic gathering space. The station should be that space.

I wish we knew how much of an effect the Hall family has had on what goes in the Station so close to Crown Center...

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by UMKCgal » Thu Apr 08, 2004 11:57 am

I've been to Union Station 3 times, ate at their cafe once..loved it all. 2 out of the 3 times I went almost everything was closed or about to close but I just liked to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Walking through the link at night a few weeks ago was burning hot though!! Summer is almost here, maintenence needs to turn off the heater!!!

Since I hear Science City is sooo kiddy I'm probably not going to step inside there unless something cool and not so kiddy comes in.

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by carfreekc » Sat Apr 10, 2004 7:12 pm

A friend and I took his nephew (6 yrs old) and niece (5 yrs old) to Science City today to see Spongebob Squarepants. The kids live in Leawood and had never been to Science City before. They both had a great time, but we didn't get through even half of the place. (I did not realize exactly how short an overstimulated 6 year old's attention span can be.) I still don't really have a clear perception of the place b/c I was too busy running after the boy to make sure we didn't lose him. The kids both said the place was cool and wanted to go back again, so we'll probably take them on a slower day. (Whoever decided to schedule Spongebob a half hour on and then a half hour off has never been around young children, who certainly want nothing to do with standing in line for another 30 minutes when they can't even see Spongebob up there. That was incredibly stupid.)

It was fun hearing the kids' comments in the car on the drive there and back. They liked the blue water in the fountains in Penn Valley park and on the Plaza, and the boy commented on how many fountains there were. As we neared Union Station, he said that the buildings were "weird."

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The Star: Pull Union Station out of mediocrity

Post by tat2kc » Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:11 am

Attendence at the Union Station attractions are up this year compared to previous years. Last year was up from the previous year. things are improving, although vey very slowly.
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