Hall Family Foundation makes $4 million-plus gift to Union Station

06/05/2014 7:18 PM

06/05/2014 10:20 PM

Planned improvements to Science City and other capital projects at Union Station got a hefty boost Thursday with the announcement of a gift worth more than $4 million from the Hall Family Foundation.

One of the proposals is a vehicular and pedestrian bridge linking the main level of Union Station to the existing parking garage, giving visitors more direct access.

The donation makes use of state tax credits awarded by Missouri and goes a long way toward fulfilling the station’s project goal of about $10 million.

“It’s a pretty dramatic investment and a significant vote of confidence in what we’re doing,” said George Guastello, Union Station’s chief executive officer.

The most visible element of the plan would be a connection between the west end of Union Station and the existing multilevel parking garage. That will allow motorists to drive to the garage at an even grade directly from Pershing Road.

The project also calls for a new, lower-level entrance to the station from the plaza between the station and the parking garage. The entrance would also serve as a conference area.

Other elements include an outdoor area for Science City and an indoor connection between the science center, the Extreme Screen and the planetarium.

Don Hall, chairman of the Hall Family Foundation, said he was pleased to support Union Station during its centennial year.

“We hope the station’s improvement plans will provide the underpinning for growth and progress over the next 100 years of this Kansas City landmark,” Hall said in a statement announcing the gift.

The Missouri Development Finance Board last year awarded Union Station $2.25 million in state tax credits for the project. That allows contributors to deduct 50 percent of their donations from their state taxes.

The Hall Family Foundation is making an outright gift of $3 million to Union Station

That uses $1.5 million in tax credits and leaves $750,000 in credits still available for other potential donors.

Union Station chief operating officer Jerry Baber said the tax-exempt foundation intends to sell its tax credits to a third party and to also give the proceeds from that, estimated at $1.3 million to $1.4 million, to Union Station.

The application for tax credits was endorsed by the Kansas City Council, which agreed to contribute an additional $600,000 for street improvements on the north side of Pershing Road.

Guastello said the Hall foundation gift will allow the station to proceed with detailed planning for the project while seeking additional donors. Construction will not begin until after the station’s centennial celebration this fall.

Science City currently is working to install two new exhibits based on the winners last fall of the second Battle of the Brains competition, sponsored by Burns & McDonnell. An exhibit about water, inspired by a class at Olathe North High School, and another one about genetics, inspired by a class at Leawood Elementary School, are scheduled to open by the end of the year.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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