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Glass and steel tower planned for Union Station

A rendering of Union Station at night with the proposed glass and steel apartment tower at dusk. | Riverside Investments and Development

A plan unveiled Monday would add a hotel and apartments atop Chicago’s Union Station.

Riverside Investments and Development and Convexity Partners plan to build 404 residential units above Union Station, leaving a hollow core in the center of the building by extending its original light well through a seven-story glass-and-steel addition to the building. The top floors of the existing building would become 330 hotel rooms.

Steve Hubbard, of Chicago-based architectural Solomon Cordwell Buenz, presented the firm’s design for the project. It spoke, he said, to an original, much-taller design for the building while preserving the parts of the building — including roof-lines, the Great Hall, and its skylight — protected by the building’s Chicago landmark designation.

Ward Miller, the executive director of Preservation Chicago, questioned the appropriateness of the addition to the historic building during a question and answer session after the presentation. “This is the last half of the last train station [in Chicago] …. Do we have to monetize every inch, and sacrifice our Chicago landmarks?” Miller said.

The plan must make its way through layers of city government before it goes forward. An office tower replacing an Amtrak-owned garage south of the site proposed by the developers will go through a separate approval process.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), who hosted the meeting and said he was still undecided on the project, hopes the development can be leveraged to produce a plan to relieve the area’s snarled traffic. The issue dominated questions from the project’s neighbors at Monday’s meeting.

The plan is part of a long-term effort to capitalize on Amtrak’s valuable real estate around Union Station and accommodate an estimated 40% increase in passenger volume by 2040. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last week that Union Station redevelopment had secured the recently announced move of 1,800 Walgreens workers into the Old Post Office just south of the project.