Despite delays, Union Station construction marks another milestone as new food hall opens
Commuters heading through Union Station will get a new experience on Monday when the food hall in the York Concourse officially opens.
It marks a major milestone for the redevelopment of the iconic train station, a project that is years behind schedule and considerably over budget. The projected cost has ballooned from $640 million to $823 million over the course of construction.
"We've worked really hard to have a retail experience that is unique and really represents the best of Toronto," said Vanessa McDonald, who manages partnerships for the station.
The lower level adds 25,000 square feet of new space to the storied building. Bangkok Buri, Loaded Pierogi, McDonalds, Paramount Fine Foods, Pizza Pizza, Roywoods, Scaccia, Shanghai 360, Sushi Shop and Tim Hortons are among the restaurants that will be open in the food hall.
"The trends have been more to a fast casual environment," said Monte Wan, co-creator of Bangkok Buri.
"I'm excited about actually finally getting to that point. And the other [eateries] are also upping their game," Wan added.
Improving the experiences of the more than 300,000 people who travel through Union Station each day was a core goal of the revitalization project, according to the city Mayor.
"It's fantastic to have more services," said Phil Verster, CEO of Metrolinx. The regional transit agency has trains and buses running to and from Union every day.
McDonald said the vision for the revamped station is guided by the question: Where is Toronto going? Ultimately, planners hoped to create a sense of community.
"Next is a fresh market space and that's very similar to St. Lawrence Market — where you've got independent curated retailers," she added.
Due to construction delays, however, there's no timeline on when that space will open.
The massive project was initially scheduled to be completed in 2015, in time for the Pan Am games. It has seen years of delays and a number of significant budget increases.
With the completion date now revised to 2019, the city pointed to contractor Bondfield Construction as the source of the backlog.