By Max McGee

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — Officials and Amtrak representatives broke ground Friday on an ambitious project to modernize Baltimore Penn Station.

The goal of the multi-million dollar effort is to expand and transform Penn Station into a regional transportation hub of the future, surrounded by mixed-use development, while preserving the character of the historic landmark.

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“As frequent Amtrak traveler, I am excited to see Penn Station receive such a substantial investment,” Mayor Brandon Scott said. “Penn Station has been a major transportation center in Baltimore for over a century, and this investment ensures that it will continue to serve our community for years to come.”

One piece of the plan involves restoration work at the station, which was originally built in 1911 and hasn’t seen a major renovation since 1984.

The other piece is a $150 million investment that will go toward a platform expansion and the development of one million square feet of commercial, retail and residential space in the area nearby.

Gov. Larry Hogan called the development a testament to seven years of efforts that have gone into opening Maryland for business.

“It harnesses the strength of the public and private sectors, it builds on the partnership at the federal, state and local levels, and the job creation potential and associated economic and transit benefits are an absolute game-changer for Baltimore City and the region,” he said.

Inside the station, developers plan to add a mix of new retail stores and restaurants to the concourse level. The three upper levels will become home to office spaces.

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Besides those upgrades, the scope of the project includes Amtrak’s rebuild of a low-level platform into a high-level, ADA-compliant platform, as well as construction of a new high-speed rail platform.

The hope is that the expansion, which will be connected to the existing station, will shore up capacity to keep up with passenger growth, improve on-time performance and offer riders a better experience.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Lanvale building, a development that offers a mixture of housing and commercial space.

The project’s developer is Penn Station Partners, which includes Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners.

Construction has already begun on the platform and work on the building’s façade is expected to begin later this year.

The project is expected to take a few years to complete.

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