Seattle's historic Union Station to become Sound Transit headquarters

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By the fall of 1999, Seattle's historic Union Station will be fully restored to its former glory and become the permanent headquarters of Sound Transit - The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority - announced today by members of the Sound Transit finance committee.

"Sound Transit is making history by creating a new wave of transportation for the people of the Puget Sound, so it's fitting that our headquarters will be at Union Station - a symbol of our region's transportation heritage," said Greg Nickels, King County councilmember and vice-chair of the Sound Transit board. Nickels said the board is excited to have the opportunity to help preserve Union Station as an important historical and architectural legacy that will be enjoyed and used for many more generations.

Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims, Tacoma City Council member Paul Miller and other Sound Transit board members will hold a press conference tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m., Friday June 19th on the front steps of Union Station, 5th Avenue South and South Jackson Streets.

Union Station first opened in 1915, and for more than half a century served as a major gateway to Puget Sound for millions of people. Dormant and unoccupied since 1971, remodeling the historic structure into an up-to-date office building presents a tremendous opportunity and challenge, balancing the requirements to protect and preserve authentic architectural details and character, meet current building and safety codes and design spaces that meet the needs of a modern work environment.

To achieve these important goals, the current owner Union Station Associates - a partnership between Paul Allen and the Nitze-Stagen Company - will retain ownership of the land and they will complete all renovations, restorations and other modifications prior to Sound Transit's occupancy. This will protect taxpayers from possible financial risks during construction.

Sound Transit will spend no more than $23 million for the renovation and other expenses at Union Station. The partnership will then donate the fully renovated Union Station building to Sound Transit for one dollar. This purchase agreement represents a cost savings for the public compared to a more expensive long-term lease.

Approved by voters in 1996, Sound Transit is on track to implement a three-county regional transit system plan known as Sound Move, a seamless blend of three transportation systems: Sounder commuter rail, running 81 miles from Everett to Tacoma/Lakewood; Link light rail, a 24-mile system connecting the cities of Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac and a 1.6 mile system in Tacoma; and Regional Express, a bus transit system connecting Bellevue, Everett, Tacoma and Seattle with other cities and communities with 20 new, fast, limited-stop bus routes and numerous improvements to transit centers, park-and-ride lots and HOV lanes throughout the region.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.