The redevelopment of Union Station has reached a couple of new milestones, says developer Gary Oborny of Occidental Management.
First, he’s done a deal for the final tenant in the Grand and Patrick Building, which is the 26,000-square-foot, two-story building where Scooter’s, Regus, State Farm, Encompas and Wells Fargo are.
Great Clips franchisee Lisa Schneider is opening her fifth salon in about 1,100 square feet there.
Now, Oborny says he’s going to focus on Phase II of Union Station’s redevelopment.
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Oborny says Great Clips, which will front Douglas, is a significant lease because of what it indicates for downtown.
“It’s a little bit of a sign that national franchises are now starting to look at downtown,” he says. “Where before it was really a mix of locals.”
He says he believes part of the reason is the amount of people who are now living downtown and part of it is what’s happening at Union Station.
“We’re starting to see a lot more interest from nationals,” Oborny says. “These numbers are starting to meet what we need to have.”
Schneider says she “worked downtown for many, many years, so I know … that community and that workforce.”
“I just think Great Clips is such a great fit with that workforce and that growing population downtown,” she says. “I know the busy schedules and the limited time.”
Appointments aren’t necessary at the walk-in salon.
There is online check-in and the ability for customers to put their names on a waiting list.
“It helps save them time,” Schneider says.
Great Clips also saves notes on customers’ styles.
“They don’t have to worry about scheduling for a particular stylist,” Schneider says.
The salon will be open seven days a week. Monday through Friday will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday most likely will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday likely will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Schnedier, who also has plans to open a Great Clips in Arkansas City later this year, will open the Union Station salon in August or September at the latest.
“It’s meeting needs of the customer that maybe aren’t being currently met down there,” she says. “They’re going to find it very convenient.”
In Rock Island Depot to the west of the Grand and Patrick, Smoothie King and Mumbai Rail Indian Bistro also are open.
A new restaurant called the Kitchen is going to open this fall to the south in the space where Cox Communications most recently had a customer service center and the late Tanya Tandoc once had her Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.
Oborny also is finalizing deals for the new kiosks that are in front of the main Union Station terminal building.
“We’re getting close to signing some users,” he says. “We call them permanent food trucks.”
There are four kiosks, each with their own glass garage door, that are mini kitchens with water connections, exhaust hoods and high counters from which to serve food.
There’s now a new fence in front of that area which creates what Oborny calls a controlled space that allows the kiosk vendors to serve alcohol.
There’s also the ability to have alcohol for certain events on the larger plaza in front of the building, too.
“We have a variance agreement with the city on that,” Oborny says.
He says he hopes to have the kiosks operational by July.
Then, the focus will be on Phase II.
“We are actively in negotiations with some groups for the Phase II, which is the terminal (and the) terminal freight building,” Oborny says.
“We just need to ink a couple of these bigger tenants,” he says. “I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at them.”
Oborny says he believes Union Station is already starting to act as a connector between the Intrust Bank Arena area and Old Town.
“It’s just another element of the transition of downtown,” he says. “We’re moving in a good, upward trajectory.”