After my column “Union Station is Insolvent”, I decided to look into the history of the development of Union Station.
Part 1: Closing of Union in 1972 through 1983
In 1986, I graduated from Boston College and started working downtown at the State Mutual sales office, the Edstrom Agency, at 303 Main Street. After work, a popular place to go was One Exchange Place and you could choose between Margaritaville, Firehouse or Legal Seafoods. I actually remember Piccolo, now has a restaurant on Shrewsbury Street, had a place to eat there, but the names escapes me. Remember vividly Angelo Scola, the developer of One Exchange where he had his offices, being there talking about his next big development project, Union Station which never happened? Got me to thinking, what did happen?
Sidenote: Who could forget A. Wesley, a high priced men’s clothing store? We had many men’s clothing stores: Wallach’s, House of Doherty and Lujon’s to name a few. Now there is only one left, Shack’s, and I hear they will be closing by the summer. I know it is hard to believe if you work downtown today, but in 1986 there was a business crowd downtown after work and there were multiple places to buy a dress shirt. Seriously there was.
After going on Google and finding nothing, it was time to go to the library. Sadly it has been too long since I had been there and after tackling the meter system, I was able to find Joy and Schuyler on third floor, who were a huge help. Reminded me of times Sweeney, think his first name was Bill?, would help me all the the time. Found out today, that he has passed away, moment of silence. As I start on this project, I will keep posting as it develops. In the meantime I hope anybody, who may have been involved in this, will drop me an e-mail with their thoughts
In 1911, Union Station was built at a cost of $750,000 and closed in 1972. As a result I only thought of Union Station as that abandoned train station at the rotary, before we went to the Wonder Bar on Shrewsbury Street.
Between 1978 and 1983, there were two different groups trying to buy Union Station from Penn Central for approximately $100,000 and turn it into next Faneuil Hall. First there was a lawyer from Springfield, Anthony Ravosa,. The other group consisted of 4 college friends from Nichols, who had an interest in real estate:
- Ara Eresian
- Greg Young
- Joseph Garabedian
- Lester Cote
Although the Worcester group had a $10,000 deposit, they were never able to clear title issues concerning railroad rights. The Worcester group was able, however, to negotiate with Gus Giordano to lease a 400 seat restaurant. Ironically Giordano operates a restaurant, Luciano’s, thee today. In the end, neither of these groups could close the deal.
In 1983, Raymond S LaRosa Associates was finally able to buy the train station with $215,000 of cash, consisting of 18 different cashier checks at various times. The interesting thing, other then the 18 cashier checks, was Raymond LaRosa himself really did not have much real estate development experience just retiring from FEMA after 20 years. His other notable experiences included being a campaign aide for Robert Kennedy and attending the party at Chappaquiddick, when Ted Kennedy had his accident with Mary Jo Kopechne.
What chances did he really have to turn this abandoned train station into the next Faneuil Hall? Not very good. He needed a partner, preferably one with connections. .