DOWNTOWN — A plan to renovate the city’s Van Buren Metra Station underneath Grant Park was approved Wednesday by City Council, including a plan to remove an iconic entryway that mimics a Parisian train station.
The renovation of the station at 132 E. Van Buren St. would include adding two ADA-accessible entrances, replacing uneven platforms, upgrading lighting and installing a new entryway on the east side of Michigan Avenue, officials said.
Designed in 1896, the station is one of the oldest in the Metra system, according to the agency.
Also included in the numerous fixes is the removal of the station’s iconic “Paris Metro” entrance at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street, according to Metra’s website.
The stairway where the entranceway’s arching sculpture is located will be eliminated, “filled in” and turned into pavement. It is being removed because the “pedestrian tunnel and ramp system beneath Grant Park, between Michigan Avenue and the station ticket office lobby, needs to be rebuilt to address water infiltration and ADA compliance concern,” officials said.
The staircase will be replaced elsewhere with a weather-protected pop-up, which will be ADA compliant and will provide an elevator, according to Metra’s proposal.
“Paris Metro” will be removed at the beginning of construction and be re-installed at a location selected by the city in consultation with the Park District and other stakeholders.
The Guimard sculpture, installed in 2003, is also not an “original element” of the Van Buren St. Station and is not identified a historical structure, sculpture or element, according to Metra’s website.
“Metra acknowledges the Hector Guimard (Paris Metro) style stair sculpture as important public art connected to the bigger story of metropolitan passenger rail transit,” said Metra’s website. “The sculpture is, at the same time, a reproduction and not designated as a contributing feature within the NRHP-listed Grant Park.”
Other major improvements includes a historic restoration of the depot’s interior which consists of the lobby, waiting room and skylights. Air conditioning replacement and restroom renovation are also included in the plans, officials said.
Platform improvements at Jackson Drive will include a full replacement of the existing platforms, platform shelters and canopy. The existing platform will also be extended towards Jackson Drive to increase capacity and ADA access, according to Metra’s plan.
Metra is also seeking a review of the project from the Chicago Plan Commission.
Once fully approved, construction is expected to begin in 2024 and finish by 2027, according to Metra.
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