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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Union Station changes slated to save money

September 23, 2000

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— A management restructuring and other changes are planned at Union Station, in an effort to save money and reduce disagreements between various factions currently managing the station.

A civic group overseeing the station's redevelopment announced the new management structure Thursday, saying it could save an estimated $1 million in the first year. Some jobs will be eliminated, but the exact number is not known, said Turner White, Union Station chief executive officer. Since streamlining began in June, the museum has cut the equivalent of 25 full-time positions or 10 percent of its staff.

Also in the works, according to White, are moves to: create more leasable space by moving Kansas City Museum managers to the basement, develop surrounding property, including possibly building a bridge to the Freight House District, and altering some exhibits at Science City.

"What is driving a lot of this is achieving our organizational goal of being a destination attraction," said Thomas McDonnell, chairman of Union Station's civic oversight group and president of DST Systems Inc. "This project has so many elements, and some have to be refined."

Union Station reopened in November as a joint venture of the Union Station Assistance Corp., which owns the station, and the Kansas City Museum, which developed the science museum and its three theaters. A voter-approved bistate tax paid for almost half the estimated $250 million cost.

Basically, the new management structure will combine the assistance corporation, museum and the Union Station Project Consultants, the civic group overseeing everything. One board made up of the civic group's five members and two new ones will top the organizational chart. The boards of the other two agencies will be blended into a secondary trustees committee.

Another change will move a gate that blocked visitors getting into the old north-south waiting area unless they had purchased tickets to Science City. Many visitors to the station had complained about not being allowed into the redone area of the station.

With the new organization, White said he hoped to achieve a break-even operation eventually.

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