Next stop? Union Station baggage building in Tampa

Tampa’s Union Station baggage building, build in 1912, the same year as the Titanic, is getting a much-needed facelift that will open it up to the public for meetings and networking space.

Using a $95,000 Historic Preservation Grant from the City of Tampa, a $50,000 bequeathment from John McQuigg, and some private donations, renovations should be underway before the end of this year, says Brandie Miklus, President of Friends of Union Station. The project is expected to cost $150,000.

The Waller Group, out of Lakeland, will serve as the general contractor.

At the same time, plans are moving to get the renovations in place, Amtrak has resumed passenger service between Tampa and New York and between Tampa and Miami, with stops in between. Passenger service shut down in July 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Amtrak is now getting federal funding assistance to restart it.

The upgrades to the baggage building include adding air conditioning, rebuilding the massive sliding doors, upgrading electricity, adding fire sprinklers, painting, and making other repairs.

Miklus says her board is hoping to plan a public event within the next few months to allow people to get more familiar with the historic train station in downtown Tampa. Tentative plans are to add a coffee shop, office space and other amenities eventually. The space could even evolve into a small business incubator of some sort.

“The board is constantly trying to figure out ways to improve awareness, so we do want to schedule an event between now and next May when we host Tampa Train Day,” she says. “People are ready to have an event again.”

Union Station is listed as a National Historic Landmark and is already available for some events, such as corporate gatherings, weddings, and cocktail parties through [email protected].

“It is a cool space and deserves more attention,” Miklus says of Union Station. “Not everyone has taken the train out of here, but most people have a train story.”
 

Read more articles by Yvette C. Hammett.

Yvette C. Hammett, a native Floridian and a graduate of the University of Florida, has spent much of her career as a professional journalist covering business, the environment, and local features throughout the Tampa Bay Area. She is an avid camper and outdoors person who has also been involved in local events for foster children and the elderly.
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