Officials ponder higher cost to renovate historic station

CINCINNATI (AP) — Hamilton County is nearing a decision on the latest cost estimates for restoring the historic art deco train station that houses the Cincinnati Museum Center.

County commissioners scheduled a vote Wednesday on whether to approve the nearly $213 million makeover plan for the 83-year-old Union Terminal.

Much of the work involves foundation and roof restoration, new windows and upgraded electrical, heating and cooling systems. Plans also call for a new lobby and classroom space, as well as an updated dining room.

The cost is about $900,000 more than planned due to needed masonry work on two walls, though restoration officials said they have a contingency fund of about $9 million for unforeseen costs, WCPO-TV reported.

“The proper headline is that we have found that we are overall on budget and on time,” said John Silverman, chairman of the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee. “The difference is about half a percentage point.”

The project is mostly funded by a five-year sales tax that’s expected to raise $175 million. The rest will be covered by state and federal tax credits, grants and private donations.

The museum is considering adding space for dinosaur fossils, expanding its science-related exhibits and building on the region’s connection to Ohio native Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Director Elizabeth Pierce said the museum has done consumer testing on what the public would like to see and has talked to private donors about what they’d be willing to support.

“There’s a big emphasis on paleontology,” Pierce said.