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Amtrak Planning Major Renovations At Union Station

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A piece of Chicago history is on track for a makeover, as Amtrak has plans to restore iconic Union Station to its glory days.

Amtrak officials plan to open restaurants, coffee shops, and a grocery store as part of a plan to make Union Station a destination location.

The rail agency already has debuted the new "Legacy Club," an area where passengers can relax while waiting for trains, similar to frequent flier lounges at airports. For a $10 fee, Amtrak passengers can take a load off on new furniture, order complimentary nonalcoholic drinks, and access the club's Wi-Fi. A former barbershop located inside the club is being converted into a bar.

A gutted space just off the Great Hall could be overhauled into a grocery store, while another gutted space featuring street access could be home to a restaurant with outdoor dining.

Amtrak also has plans for a $2.2 million renovation of the marble staircase on Canal Street, to replace the worn steps connecting the Great Hall to the main entrance. Contractors will be visiting Italy to get the same marble that makes up the existing staircase.

The makeover has been years in the making.

"We were very, very close a few years ago," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. "We are going to approach this differently now. Instead of having the developers do all the work, we've gutted out the space. We've put the fire suppression equipment in it. So it's more ready to be developed than it was before."

Work on the staircase was scheduled to begin on July 15. The Canal Street entrances will be closed for more than two months while the work is done. Officials hoped to wrap up that work by October.

The steps are perhaps best known as the setting for a scene from the 1987 film "The Untouchables," when Kevin Costner, playing Elliot Ness, gets into a shootout with Al Capone's thugs as he's waiting to arrest Capone's bookkeeper.

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