The estimated cost of restoring Union Station has doubled, and the city and the state are prepared to pressure the building's owner to find out whether he can make his plans for the old railroad station a reality.
With great fanfare, a $578,680 federal grant was announced five years ago. Brian D. Yaiser, who owns the Union Street building, also kicked in $161,320 of his own money, for a total budget of $740,000.
"Brian kept saying he could do the project for that," Mayor Kenneth D. Swan said.
However, the estimate now stands at roughly $1.4 million, city and state sources said. The state asked the city whether it would come up with the additional $700,000, but Swan said the answer should be obvious.
"I don't have an extra $700,000," the mayor said. "I've got water lines to work on, I've got a parking ramp that needs repairs. (Union Station) is not a real high priority at this time."
Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said he will ask the Common Council this week to call Yaiser on the carpet, with a view toward possibly canceling the agreement under which he received a federal grant to pay for part of the work.
Yaiser did not return a call seeking comment.
Alderwoman Constance M. Beccue, R-Third Ward, said she has arranged a meeting among Yaiser, state Department of Transportation officials and "private financiers," whom she declined to identify. She also declined to offer more specifics about an apparent bailout plan.
"We can't afford to buy it, and we can't afford to run it," said Mrs. Beccue, who heads the city's Union Station Committee. "We need a public-private partnership. We need to deal with reality."
The station was built in 1888, and the New York Central Railroad stopped using it in 1957. It housed a restaurant until 1974, when a fire gutted the building.
Yaiser, a Royalton resident, bought the station in October 1990. The Union Station Development Corp., of which he is the president, conceived a plan to restore it for a railroad museum and office space.
Architect's plans call for converting what was originally a two-story structure into three stories, by building into the high ceilings of the original station.
Ottaviano said the city's contract with Yaiser states that if the project costs exceed the original estimate, the Council has 60 days "to decide if they want to pull out."