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Museum Center Offers New Details On Interior Renovations

Cincinnati Museum Center
Artist rendering of the planned new mezzanine level lobby.

The committee in charge of overseeing the Union Terminal restoration is getting a better idea of what changes will be made to the interior layout.

During a meeting Tuesday the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee (UTRAC) reviewed plans for the HVAC, electrical and exterior work, as well as changes visitors will notice when the facility reopens in Fall 2018.

Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Elizabeth Pierce says visitors will most likely notice improved ways to get around the building.

"There will be additional elevators added to help people move around the building more smoothly. There will be entrances at the lower level off of the Children's Museum lobby to the Science and History museums. There will be new spaces within each of those museums that we were able to gain back from building for new, future exhibits."

The renovation will allow the museum to take back and use large areas currently occupied by duct and ventilation work, or spaces that are unfinished with dirt floors.

Credit Provided / Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center
Artist rendering of the where the holiday trains will be viewable from the new mezzanine lobby.

A new mezzanine level lobby will be added at the base of the first set of escalators to provide better circulation and access to classroom and exhibit spaces. Currently that space is closed off by a curved wall as you head down toward the Children's Museum. The mezzanine will provide an overlook to the Duke Energy Holiday Train display, which will move to the Flatboat Gallery currently located in the lower level of the Cincinnati History Museum.

Credit Provided / Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center
Artist rendering of the restored Losantiville Dining Room.

The Losantiville Dining Room will become the primary eating space. Pierce says this should make lunch time an easier and ideally more relaxing experience.

The project was awarded $21 million in federal historic tax credits earlier this year. However, the first application for state credits was turned down. This was not unexpected as there are fewer state credits to go around and lots of applicants. Project officials will apply again this fall with a determination expected in December.

Museum Center Chief Financial Officer Jill Berkemeier isn't too concerned about missing out in the first attempt at the state credits, which would total about $3.25 million. She says the restoration project scored the highest number of points in all criteria areas except for vacancy. She expects the application to go better the second time around as the facility is now largely closed. Should the project miss out again, a third application can be made. Committee members feel confident the credits will eventually be awarded.

Interim Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Aluotto reports sales tax receipts continue to perform well. The bulk of the project is being funded by a five-year, quarter cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014.

UTRAC committee members will report to Hamilton County Commissioners next week that the project remains on time and on budget. Commissioners will hear a full report on Monday, Sept. 12 and are expected to give final approval to the restoration plan during their full meeting Wednesday, Sept. 14.