Union Station pushes city for tax credit to help expansion project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Union Station has asked Kansas City council members to approve an application to give corporate donors state tax incentives.
Council members will consider an application for $5 million in tax credits to support improvements at the iconic train depot.

The tax credits would incentivize donors to help pay for a three-year transformation of Science City and a new grassy courtyard outside the Science City entrance.

The new courtyard could be used for outdoor concerts or events.

Union Station shut down in the 1980s and remained closed until a 1996 bi-state tax initiative helped fund renovations. It reopened in 1999.

Four years ago, Union Station was $10 million in the red and had gone through $40 million of its endowment.

Now, CEO George Guastello said the space is 100 percent leased, financially stable and has $2 million in the bank.

National exhibits on subjects like Princess Diana and the Titanic have given sponsors the confidence to start donating money again.

"Union Station is the quintessential success story," Guastello said. "Donors are believing the future's greater."

Union Station aims to become known as the science center of the Midwest. It has added digital learning labs, test kitchens and robotics classes. It recently invested $1 million into building renovations.

Visitors have taken notice.

Kimberly Wilcox said of Science City, which is undergoing a $2 million boost, "There were years it seemed like there could have been more for the kids to do, but we definitely noticed an improvement today."

The full city council will consider the state tax credit application on Thursday.

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