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Union Terminal Restoration On Track For July Start

Investigatory work is underway to find out everything that needs to be repaired and restored so as to limit the number of surprises once construction begins.

Preparations are underway for construction to begin this summer on the Union Terminal restoration.

Members of the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee (UTRAC) are expected to tell Hamilton County Commissioners later this month that the project is on time and on budget.Mike Burson is the Owner's Representative with the Union Terminal Corporation.

"The team has been working so that we'll be able to actually start work in July," Burson says. "The detailed construction drawings for the exterior work will be finished in April so that in May and June Turner will be able to get contractors lined up to bid on some of that work so that we'll really be ready to start in July."

He adds that Turner Construction (the firm serving as construction manager) is keeping an eye on the numbers to make sure the project is staying within the projected construction budget. A final budget will be set by the end of July or mid-August. Hamilton County Commissioners must sign off on the final plan and budget. That is scheduled for mid-August.

The total restoration is expected to cost around $212 million. The bulk of the funding is coming from a five-year, quarter cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014. Hamilton County began collecting that tax in April 2015. Assistant Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says tax revenues are coming in stronger than anticipated with $19.6 million collected through December 2015. The projection was $16.9 million.

"We hope the proceeds continue like this," Aluotto told UTRAC members during a meeting Tuesday.

If tax revenues continue to perform strong, all extra proceeds will go toward preservation and maintenance of the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC). As part of the restoration sales tax levy, the Museum Center allowed its operating levy to expire without renewal on December 31, 2014.

Credit Provided / Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center
"The bulk of the work is, really, the exterior. The repair of the brick, the masonry, the structural steel replacement of the roofing."

Architects and engineers are currently investigating and inspecting as much of the building as possible in order to minimize the number of surprises and problems that may occur once construction begins.

"There are going to be some," says Burson. "You just can't find them all. That's the name of the game right now, to reduce the risk as we move into construction as much as we possibly can."

"The bulk of the work is, really, the exterior. The repair of the brick, the masonry, the structural steel replacement of the roofing. That's almost $56 million of that total hard cost. That will be very evident the first week of July. Half of the front of the building will be fenced off for construction staging."

Missing Artwork

As part of the restoration, the Museum Center is trying to locate some original wall murals that once hung in the Newsreel Theater. CMC staff do not believe the artwork is anywhere on the premises and are trying to track them down to be reinstalled.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.