NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A centennial plaque unveiled and a serenade by Governor Ned Lamont at Union Station in New Haven Thursday.
“Happy birthday to Union Station! Happy birthday to you!” sang the governor.
Union Station in New Haven is 100-years-old this year. Its future is on track with the signing of a “letter of intent” to invest $65-million into transit-oriented development.
Under the letter of intent, a new lease and funding agreement will be established between the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the City of New Haven to last 35 years, with two 10-year extension options, that will allow the city (through Park New Haven) to lease and operate the Union Station Transportation Campus and staff the partnership.
“We made a deal that puts this station on a path,” said Governor Lamont.
Plans call for the revamping of the basement, first, and second floors of the station to allow for new retail options; and improvements to stairs, elevators, and escalators that will enable future adaptive reuse of the upper station floors and public restrooms.
“Governor Lamont, Commissioner Giulietti, and DOT staff came to the table and left 20 years of baggage at the door,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.
The baggage, says State Representative Roland Lamar, centered around whether the station should have been closed half a century ago: “It was a burden to the state, federal government, and everyone saw this as a teardown opportunity.”
As one of the nation’s busiest train junctions, elected officials saw its importance. The historic jewel was saved. It has been serving the region for a century.
The current lease agreement runs out in two years. The new deal once finalized would kick in. Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti says right now they are looking at all of the property to see “where we can put in some additional restaurants, boutiques, hotels, all are on the table.”
In addition, the agreement will establish an executive oversight panel consisting of the Connecticut transportation commissioner and mayor of New Haven that will be responsible for strategic planning, annual budget direction, major issue resolution, and redevelopment of the station campus.
“Our hope is we can also connect this to the other side of the tracks to a pedestrian bridge,” added Mayor Elicker, who is interested in expanding the Long Wharf development.
It’s unclear when construction would begin.
READ: News Haven Union Station Letter of Intent and Agreement