Open House for St. Louis’ Latest Gateway Mall Plan; Implimentation Underway Before Public Viewing (Updated)
In a classic St. Louis move, the city’s “leadership” is already moving forward with a plan the public has yet to see. Mayor Slay, Aldermanic President, Alderman Phyllis Young, and Downtown Parnership’s Jim Cloar last week talked of the newest concept as a done deal even though we the public have not seen anything yet. Typical.
The public open house is scheduled for this evening, Monday June 11, 2007 at 6:30pm in the rotunda at City Hall. This is one of those meetings designed to give the appearance of public participation without any actual participation. The usual round of types — officials, business executives, etc… — have already approved of the plan on our behalf. How big of them to do so. I assume tonight will also be a chance for all these folks to congratulate each other on a job well done. I’ll be there simply because I need to see what sort of disasterous plan the city has drafted this time. Any comment forms will likely be a waste of paper.
Before I get into the recent developments I want to cover some history. Basically the “mall” runs from the Old Courthouse on east to 21st street on the west, with a couple of interruptions along the way, Gateway One & Civil Courts. Numerous historic buildings were razed over a period of decades to create the lifeless open space.
Here are some web resources for more information:
- Downtown Parks (St. Louis Parks Dept)
- Historic Downtown tour (Built St. Louis w/images of buildings razed for mall)
- Downtown Architecture History (an older webpage of the City of St. Louis)
- Comprehensive City Plan 1947 – Central Business District (City plan from 1947 online)
In short, the roots of the Gateway Mall go back to the early 20th century starting with a grand boulevard that would have stretched all the way from Tucker (12th) to Grand. I’ve looked through all the various plans from the last 75 years or so and they all have one thing in common, the universal destruction of the forms that actually make up a city. That is, tearing away buildings that help define streets and in many cases removing the streets themselves. The earliest plans were focused on making life easier for motorists with little understanding of the long-term implications of razing much of the business district and the downtown west area near Union Station.
In the late 80s when I was attending architecture school at the University of Oklahoma we learned three things about St. Louis: It has the beautiful Gateway Arch by Eero Saarinen, the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex was a major failure and imploded and the old Union Station was just given new life as a ‘festival marketplace.’ Upon moving to St. Louis in August 1990 I began to learn so much more.
For example, I learned about the razing of historic buildings once located on the site of the Gateway One office building, including the battle to save the buildings from destruction. E.F. Porter and Charlene Prost recall the earlier battle in a Post-Dispatch article from Sunday April 9, 1989:
In the agony of 1983, involving the Nationally Registered Title Guarantee Building and its two companions, the Buder and International buildings, the forces of preservation were overwhelmed by an alliance of bankers, developers, construction firms, building trades unions and the political leadership of job-hungry minority groups. At the sacrifice of a significant part of the city’s architectural patrimony, a lot of money changed hands in the short run. What downtown gained in the long run was (a.) a new office building (Gateway One) of negligible architectural merit with an inhospitable forecourt, and (b.) the metamorphosis of the Gateway Mall plan to level of disingoriginal dream of a block-wide, green promenade was forced further into oblivion.
St. Louis’ mayor at the time, Vince Schoemehl, later regretted agreeing to the construction of the Gateway One building. However, I am not sure if he regrets the legal taking of the buildings from the owner and the razing of those structures. Schoemehl is now the President of Grand Center where buildings continue to be razed for ever more surface parking lots.
I also learned the year before my arrival major corporate citizen Anheuser-Busch had tried to raze the magnificant Cupples Warehouse complex. From the Post-Dispatch April 9, 1989:
Cupples Station is a designated landmark. Civic Center Corp., owner of Busch Stadium and much of the surrounding urban territory, has indicated its intention to acquire it and tear it down. But there never has been a great civic dream for use of the Cupples property comparable to the Gateway Mall. The complaint of some architects is that the two situations have all too much in common. They illustrate a kind of civic indirection in the planning of the future of downtown St. Louis. Events occur almost entirely at the initiative and convenience of developers, virtually untempered by any plans and visions of the city government or the citizenry. The city granted tax abatements, but otherwise abdicated control of the Buder-Title Guarantee block. It looks as though Civic Center expects it to do the same with the Cupples site, and considering the political power of its corporate parent, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., it may get its way. Civic Center is said to have retained the architectural firm of Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets to design a replacement for the Cupples structures, but it has not revealed what those plans are. There is no hint that they would entail recycling the Cupples buildings.
Thankfully the plan to raze the Cupples Warehouses was lost. The architects hired by A-B to design replacements for these irreplaceable collection of warehouses now goes by the name PGAV, Inc., Alderman Lyda Krewson is the firm’s current CFO. Next week Mayor Slay will cut the ribbon on a J. Buck’s restaurant opening in one of these old warehouses.
Above, one of the Cupples Station buildings now contains lofts and a restaurant/bar known as Mercury.
One of the people I met early on was Carolyn Toft, head of the local preservation group, the Landmark’s Association. In the September 9, 1990 edition of the Post-Dispatch Toft shares her displeasure of the planning around the mall at that time:
One critic is Carolyn Toft, executive director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis Inc. ”I think that at the moment, a discussion of visionary
malls is impractical and deflects the proper discussion of what is important to the rejuvenation of downtown,” she says. ”What’s important is housing. Until you get people living in downtown – people who cause it to become their neighborhood, and who are there on a 24-hour basis to support the retailers and the restaurants – you are not going to have a vibrant downtown, no matter what you do.”
While the city gave lip service to creating housing in addition to open space it was the razing of more buildings that got the focus of attention. At this time, in the early 90s, two additional blocks were being planned that would at long last complete the mall. These two blocks were bounded by 8th, Market, 10th and Chestnut. The block to the west was already razed and contained the “world-class” sculpture ‘Twain’ by Richard Serra and funded by Emily Pulitzer. To the east was Gateway One, the May Ampitheatre, Kiener Plaza and the old Courthouse. The block between 8th and 9th had already been razed while the block between 9th and 10th was occupied.
Above image from the early 1980s is courtesy of Robin Ringwald. In the center the block between 7th & 8th has been cleared of the historic Buder, International and Title Guarantee buildings. Kiener Plaza exists but 6th still continues through and the May Ampitheatre is not yet constructed. The buildings in the foreground center would remain until the early 90s.
From the Post-Dispatch on April 25, 1993:
Two weeks after the city of St. Louis found a way to finish the last two undeveloped blocks of the Gateway Mall, it’s the old 9-0-5 Liquor Store building down and the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Western Union buildings to go. Once the block with the three buildings is leveled, the bulldozers will go to work on the parking lots on the other block. This time next year, according to the plan, both blocks will bloom with grass and flowers. And the book will close on 79 years of mall history – years of planning and replanning, debating and redebating. No more false starts or fancy plans that can’t be paid for, said Larry Bushong, the city’s top development official.
Yes, in the early 1990s some thought the saga of planning for the Gateway Mall would be finished. Many to this day say that Gateway One should not have been built, that the city should have stuck with the original plan. Well, that is not exactly how it went. Some advocated a renovation plan, keeping and restoring the buildings in the path of the mall. The plan from a group called “Pride” won out, they intended to build four half-mall buildings (6th to 10th).
Back to the 1993 article for more on this:
H. Edwin Trusheim, chairman of General American Life Insurance Co. and a founder of Pride, said its leaders always had preferred an open, landscaped mall, rather than Pride’s so-called “half-mall” approach. That was a economic compromise, using revenue-producing office buildings on half a block to pay for green space on the other half. Pride got one block developed that way before a recession hit the real estate market. Then Pride couldn’t get a developer for the remaining two mall blocks – the ones the city has just bought. “I am very pleased the mall will be completed, and basically as an open mall that’s been part of the city’s plans for more than 75 years,” Trusheim said. When the mall finally is finished, he said, the park-like expanse, coupled with noontime activities in an existing amphitheater, will bring welcome distraction from all of downtown’s concrete and glass.
Besides meeting Carolyn Toft in the early 1990s I met Architect and Washington University Professor Donald Royse. At the time he was on loan from the university to St. Louis as the city’s urban design director. Royse was a personal friend of my then boss and my boss’ sister. Just after the final buildings had been razed, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (or was it the Landmarks Association?) held a meeting in the library on the top of the Civil Courts building. Royse was there to explain the concept for the final two blocks of the mall and explain how wonderful it was finally going to be. So there in the stunning law library with the stunning view of the city I, for the first time, challenged a city official in public over a proposed plan. Royse was not pleased by being challenged in public by a kid, especially one working for a friend of his.
Royse was certain of the concept for these two blocks and hoped the in the future the blocks west to 21st would pick up the same design theme. He was confident of their usefulness. What did I, a then 26 year-old person know about great city planning and architecture? At the time I barely had email, much less a blog.
From the Post-Dispatch of July 16, 1993:
Unlike some older mall blocks, particularly ones west of Tucker Boulevard, Royse said, the new ones “will be inviting and attractive . . . and
people should use the mall more.”
Should? Well Don, they didn’t. Perhaps had we installed some signs indicating “Donald Royse thinks you should use this space more” it wouldn’t be so dead today? Trees, green grass and stylized benches does not guarantee an urban space will be used, I and others have argued. Much of Gateway Mall’s spaces are surrounded by parking garages or bland glass boxes, an environment no amount of grass (or art?) can overcome. Royse later left Washington University and retired to Seattle where he has served on their Urban Design Commission, including a time as chair.
Before getting into the design issues around these two blocks I once again need to go backwards just a bit. As I indicted, in 1990 the Cupples Station warehouses located just a few blocks south of Market had just been saved from demolition. But the question still remained what to do with them. The solution? The Cupples Mall, of course. Under this concept we’d build a mall to connect the main Gateway Mall all the way to Ralston Purina (now part of the Swiss company NestlÃ©).
Back to the September 9, 1990 article from the Post-Dispatch:
This half-block-wide landscaped pathway would extend about 10 blocks northward from Ralston Purina at Gratiot Street, through the nearly vacant Cupples Station warehouses, to Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.’s tower. The goal is to get people walking through the Cupples Station warehouses (and thus help get the buildings redeveloped) and to link the Ralston complex with the rest of downtown. The north block in the Cupples mall is in the uncompleted part of the Gateway Mall.
In the end the two blocks of the Gateway Mall, built in 1994, didn’t plan a connection with a mall heading south toward Ralston. The Cupples Mall concept didn’t call for any demolition, by going through the route demolished earlier for on/off ramps of highway 40 (aka I-64). When the Eagleton Courthouse was completed in 2000 this “half-block-wide” mall concept was dusted off and a portion was built.
Above image take on 6/9/2007, looking South toward Cupples Station with on/off ramps in center and Ralston tower in far background.
More from September 1990:
The malls and attractively landscaped pedestrian pathways would help tie together the scattered attractions downtown. They would encourage more people to stroll; that, in turn, would give downtown life and vitality and help attract office and housing development, they say. For the most part, the plans are getting good reviews. Among the supporters is Edward Ruesing, president of Downtown St. Louis Inc. Ruesing says both the Gateway and Cupples malls projects are ”economic development tools that would enhance the development potential of property bordering them.” To back that up, he cites development along the south side of Market, overlooking the Gateway Mall. ”People who built there in the last 10 to 20 years did so with the expectation that they were building in a prestigious location, overlooking a major public space,” he says.
Downtown St. Louis Inc. is now the Downtown St. Louis Partnership headed by Jim Cloar. And what about those companies that built along the mall in a prestigious location? SBC moved their headquarters out of St. Louis after the ‘completion’ of the mall. One of the biggest companies in the region, General American Life Insurance, which was headquarterd on the south side of the mall and played a role in the demolition of the historic buildings, suffered a financial meltdown in 1999. From a 2003 Business Journal article:
Former directors of General American Life Insurance Co. agreed to a $29.5 million settlement following the collapse of the company that occurred under their watch. The former directors â€” a virtual who’s who in the St. Louis business community â€” did not have to pay the settlement money. It was covered by two other insurance companies, according to the agreement filed in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City Oct. 18
The previously undisclosed settlement, under which the directors admited no wrongdoing, was reached more than two years after a liquidity crisis caused the collapse of General American, at that time the largest life insurance company in Missouri and among the largest in the United States, and led to its sale in early 2000 to MetLife for $1.2 billion.
Proceeds from the sale and the settlement went to a fund set aside to pay former General American policyholders who owned the mutual company at the time of its sale. Liquidators have said they want to distribute the money in 2003.
Former directors who agreed to the settlement include: August Busch III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.; William Cornelius, retired chairman of what is now Ameren Corp.; Bernard Edison, retired president of the former Edison Brothers Stores Inc.; Craig Schnuck, chairman of Schnuck Markets Inc.; William Stiritz, chairman of Ralcorp Holdings and Energizer Holdings; Andrew Taylor, chairman and chief executive of Enterprise Rent-A-Car; Edward Trusheim, retired chairman of General American; Robert Virgil, general principal at Edward Jones; and Virginia Weldon, Chairman of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
The settlement agreement also included the estate of the late William Maritz, chairman of Maritz Inc. and a General American director at the time of his death in 2001, and retired U.S. Senator John Danforth. Danforth, an attorney at Bryan Cave, was the only General American director who later was named a director at MetLife.
The General American building remains vacant today. Not to worry though, none of these corporate directors lost their personal fortunes in the settlement. Most are still around to keep offering advice to St. Louis.
So back to the early 1990s and these final two blocks to finish off the mall. One concept to justify the razing of the structures was underground parking with park space on top, you know, like recently done at Chicago’s Millenium Park. The difference is St. Louis didn’t build the parking but Chicago did. Remember this parking issue as it will come up again in the late 1990s.
The Post-Dispatch on April 25, 1994:
Donald Royse oversaw the general mall plan while on loan to the city as urban-design director. After he went back to his job as professor of architecture at Washington University, the city hired David Mason & Associates Inc. to do the detailed design for the two blocks. Royse’s suggestions included the lion benches, to tie the mall visually with a variety of Art Deco animals and forms adorning the Federal Courthouse, Kiel Opera House and other buildings facing the mall.
Just for the record, deco benches do not “tie the mall visually” with buildings blocks away. Architects and planners need to stop thinking like this and focus on specifics that actually bring people to open spaces. From the same article:
As part of a complicated mall financing worked out last year, five major downtown corporations, most with offices overlooking the mall, contributed about $ 17.5 million in exchange for special state tax credits. Most of the money went to buy property and pay off debts of a previous mall development group. But $ 950,000 was set aside to clear and rebuild the last two blocks.
Wow, special tax credits to pay off debts of big corporations. Moving forward we see the fallout of this “complicated mall financing,“ Charlene Prost writes in the Post-Dispatch from February 28, 1999 (my 32nd birthday):
Years after most everyone thought the Gateway Mall downtown was done, turns out they were wrong. To repay the state in part for $ 8.7 million in tax breaks it gave to five corporations that contributed money to finish the mall in 1993, a city agency was supposed to build underground parking in the mall within five years. On top of that, $ 2.75 million of revenue from the parking was supposed to go back to the state. But the parking facility was never built. And nobody at City Hall can explain why.
State officials want the $ 2.75 million, with interest. And they want the parking, either beneath the mall as promised or perhaps somewhere else, to resolve parking problems for about 690 state employees working in the renovated, historic Wainwright building adjacent to the mall.
The businessmen, working as Pride Redevelopment Corp., represented some of the same Civic Progress corporations that later built Kiel Center, but failed to get the Opera House reopened.
In 1982, the city put Pride in charge of redeveloping the last three blocks in the mall between Seventh and Tenth Streets. Pride acquired some of the property, then brought in a private developer who in 1986 built a kind of half mall on the block between Seventh and Eighth Streets, with the $ 70 million Gateway One office building on the north half of the block, and landscaped open space on the south half.
But by 1993, Pride said it was about $ 16 million in the red, including interest. And it still had not redeveloped the blocks between Eighth and Tenth Streets. It had acquired and cleared one of the blocks, and built a surface parking lot. The other block, still owned by others, contained four structures, including the Western Union building, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken operation.
That’s when city and state development officials, Pride, and the corporations, made a deal to get the mall
finished. Here’s how it worked:
* Five corporations contributed a total of $ 17.5 million to the state development board, and, in return, got to write off a total of $ 8.75 million in state taxes. The five corporations were: Boatmen’s National Bank (now part of NationsBank); Mercantile Bank; Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri; and General American Life Insurance Co., at the time, lead by H. Edwin Trusheim, co-chairman of
* The state board paid Pride about $ 9 million to acquire the parking lot block it owned and help pay off Pride’s debts. It also paid about $ 7 million to acquire the other block. The state board gave the two blocks to the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, that was
supposed to build the underground parking garage within 5 years.
* The city spent $ 1.5 million to clear the two blocks and make them into a landscaped park
In other words, some serious cash was spent on the two blocks between 8th and 10th as well as the block containing Gateway One (7th to 8th). All five companies have, except for Blue Cross, been bought out by others. The Kiel Opera House is still closed.
From a June 7, 1998 editorial in the Post-Dispatch:
A large-scale work of art proposed for the area in front of the Federal Courthouse by the artist Mary Miss has been given the thumbs up by nearly all the principals concerned. That is good news for St. Louis.
Why? Because St. Louis historically has developed (and decayed) in patterns of disconnectedness. The Arch stands in isolation from downtown and Laclede’s Landing. Busch Stadium is a destination rather than a hub. The TWA Dome appears to have landed in its neighborhood, not developed in it. Major projects – the TWA Dome, the Kiel Center, the Metropolitan Life and Southwestern Bell buildings – were designed to encourage people to stay inside and avoid any communion with the street.
Ms. Miss wanted to give some aesthetic treatment to the area around the new Federal Courthouse. The more she looked, the more it seemed important and sensible to enlarge the project, to link pedestrian spaces that would connect the Gateway Mall to the Courthouse to Cupples Station on the South.
The P-D certainly got the disconnectedness correct but they seem to have bought into this idea of public art at the great connector. The above is the rebirth of the Cupples Mall from the early 1990s. But it is nearly 2000 and Mayor Harmon and others start a group called Downtown Now. March 15, 1999:
Planners hired by Downtown Now are proposing to narrow Market Street as a way of making the Gateway Mall livelier.
In the mall, the planners would put fountains and landscaping; walking, jogging and bicycle paths; and other attractions, including an ice skating rink. “Right now, the mall doesn’t really function as a park for downtown as it should. It feels more like a piece of land in between two streets,” says John Hoal, an architecture professor at Washington University and a consultant for the planning group. “What we want to do is create a more pleasant place in the mall, so people will want to come to it and use it,” Hoal said.
Hoal is part of a team of planners that Downtown Now hired last year at a cost of nearly $ 1 million. Their assignment was to draft a plan that would revive downtown over the next several years. Leading Downtown Now are city officials, the Downtown St. Louis Partnership, St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association and St. Louis 2004. They have vowed to work together to get the plan carried out.
You can review the various plans and notes for Downtown Now here. Among the ideas floated at the time were to make Market Street one-way eastbound with Chestnet one-way westbound. Mayor Harmon opposed the narrowed, one-way Market idea preferring the grander boulevard. Although plans for the Old Post Office Square called for no parking around the Old Post Office, the Century Building was razed a few years ago for a parking garage. The state finally got their parking.
Downtown Now conducted a year-long planning process which did have numerous public meetings although I believe most of the ideas came from the consulting team with the public basically getting to pick “a” or “b”.
The work of the planning team, which includes more than a dozen local and out-of-town consultants and planning and urban-design firms, will cost about $950,000. NationsBank is picking up half the tab, as part of a recent commitment to make $ 100 million in loans and investments in downtown. Downtown Now is raising the rest privately.
Among that team was “Joe Berridge, a planning expert from Toronto, a partner at Urban Strategies in Toronto.” (P-D 6/1/98). This is another of those remember this for the future notes. Downtown Now, originally set up at a temporary group, worked on the Washington Avenue streetscape and a few years ago disbanded. Despite lots of planning around the Gateway Mall, nothing was done (perhaps a good thing considering some of the ideas).
Jump ahead to 2005 and architects with the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects were asked to conduct a design charette to help generate ideas for the Gateway Mall. Many months were spent planning the charette which was held in the Fall of 2005. I sat in on planning meetings as well as participating in the charette. On the final day of the charette all three teams presented the ideas to Mayor Slay’s chief of staff, Jeff Rainford. It took some time to get all the materials gathered together but in 2006 final concepts from the AIA were given to the city for further action. The Gateway Foundation stepped forward to help fund the design. The city and the foundation collaborated on a RFQ, Request for Qualifications (see PDF document).
The design team was announced in February 2007, from the press release:
Mayor Francis G. Slay announced today that a team led by Thomas Balsley and Associates and Urban Strategies, Inc., was selected to create a master plan for the Cityâ€™s Gateway Mall. Earlier this year, Mayor Slay approached the Gateway Foundation to request the Foundationâ€™s assistance in developing a plan to energize the Gateway Mall and enhance its attractiveness. The Gateway Foundation responded by pledging funds for the development of the master plan and, working with the Mayor, formed a Steering Committee to select a consulting team to develop the plan.
The Steering Committee is comprised of: Gary Bess, the Cityâ€™s Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry; Rollin Stanley, the Cityâ€™s Director of Planning and Urban Design; David Fischer, Executive Director of Great Rivers Greenway; Jim Cloar, President of the Downtown Partnership; and Christy B. Fox, Director of the Gateway Foundation.
Myself and others from the 2005 charette process were able to meet the design team earlier this year, before they got started. We sat down with them at the AIA offices on Washington Ave. They also met with other groups such as local developers, the downtown residents and property owners. But wait, one of the teams is Urban Strategies, Inc. of Toronto — the same firm that was on the Downtown Now team back in 1999.
The team seemed open to fresh thinking and I knew the process should be pretty open considering the RFQ:
the team shall prepare a project web page and post the notice for the public open house and the agreed upon draft plan from task 3.2 with appropriate links
â€¢ the web page will be operational in advance of the â€œpublic open houseâ€ by at least two weeks
â€¢ the web page shall include an on-line comment ability for the public to submit opinions
â€¢ the team shall, in consultation with the program advisor, organize a public open house to present the draft Master Plan
â€¢ the team shall handle all tasks associated with the public open house
â€¢ the venue is anticipated to be on City property, such as the rotunda at City Hall 3.4 public open house
I guess they forgot about that “project web page” two weeks prior to the open house. And what about feedback?
Announced last week was a $20 million “Urban Garden” for two blocks of the dead downtown concept. This really amounts to a wealthy family wanting to purchase $10 million in large scale art for themselves, via their foundation, and needing a visible place to locate the art. The $20 million “gift” was touted big time last week to help difuse any opposition and to divert attention from the fact another big ‘magic bullet’ plan is being strutted out before the public.
Yes, I am looking a blue-blooded world-class gift horse in the mouth.
An article in last week’s Post-Dispatch said in all in this sentence:
The sculpture garden, which has been a well-kept secret, as is the Gateway Foundation’s practice, was vetted before a select handful of civic, business and cultural leaders.
“…vetted before a select handful of civic, business and cultural leaders.” Like those that drove General American into the ground? Or perhaps those that advocated razing numerous historic buildings for a concept and then needed the state to bail them out of their debts? Or the Busch family that sought to raze Cupples Station?
Like many of you I had heard the name Gateway Foundation over and over but I never knew much about them. So last week one of my first questions was who is this Gateway Foundation that has this kind of cash for such a project. Well, here is some of what I found on the Gateway Foundation:
* A 2004 St. Louis Commerce article:
A private foundation established 25 years ago and funded by a St. Louis family, Gateway is a significant granting source for arts organizations in the region. Christy Fox, executive director, says, â€œWe also initiate some of our projects, which include the purchase and installation of public art around the St. Louis metro region.â€Gateway is involved in lighting projects, such as the Gateway Arch, Civil Courts Building, the Old Courthouse, and three historical water towers.
* Their last annual report filed with the Secretary of State was in 2004. Other reports online include 1999-2003.
* The 2004 report filed on 6/22/2004 lists the board members and officers as James D. Burke, Morton Peter Fischer, Martha C. Fischer, Matthew Aaron Fischer, David W. Mesker, Gyo Obata, Michael Fischer, Susan Philpott, Susan Rava and Assistant Secretary Christy B. Fox. None appear to be residents of the City of Saint Louis.
* The foundation voluntarily dissolved itself on September 12, 2005. See the paperwork from the Secretary of State: Dissolution (Signed by M. Peter Fischer) and Certificate of Termination issued by the State of Missouri. Apparently they decided to continue giving but did not bother to tell the Secretary of State’s office.
* The current board members are unknown.
* Another Gateway Foundation has filed in Missouri but that is an extension of a Chicago-based foundation that specializes in drug rehab.
Still, they’ve given a lot of money and that must be acknowledged. Just because they installed public art outside their office in the Laclede Gas building at 8th & Olive doesn’t mean we need to turn over two city blocks to them. Two blocks, you will recall, that cost plenty of money to get in the vacant state they are in currently.
From the city’s press release last Friday:
The City of St. Louis and the not-for-profit Gateway Foundation will partner in creating a unique public garden, with extensive landscaping and modern and contemporary sculpture, on a prime downtown setting, Mayor Francis G. Slay announced today. The â€œUrban Garden,â€ as the development is tentatively being called, will be on the Gateway Mall between Eighth and Tenth and Market and Chestnut Streets. It will feature plantings selected in consultation with, and maintained by, the Missouri Botanical Garden; fountains and other water features; artistic lighting; seating; and 20 to 25 pieces of sculpture by internationally renowned artists. A cafÃ© with indoor and outdoor seating is also being contemplated. The garden, which is expected to cost at least $20 million, will be financed entirely by the St. Louis-based Gateway Foundation.
See, the message is done deal. Sure, come to the open house but we are already proceeding so don’t even try to stop us. The “open house” is simply a good PR name for the event. More from the press release:
â€œThis garden will immediately become one of St. Louisâ€™ great new attractions for residents and tourists alike,â€ the Mayor said. â€œThere is nothing really like it anywhere in the United States. It will be a spectacular addition to downtown.â€ Part of the gardenâ€™s uniqueness, the Mayor said, will rest in its openness and accessibility. There will be no fence surrounding it. And in the tradition of many other great St. Louis attractions, it will be free. â€œThe art will be world-class and broadly appealing at the same time â€“ to art sophisticates and non-sophisticates, to adults and children,â€ the Mayor said. â€œAlthough people inevitably have different opinions about public art, this garden will be designed to offer something to everyone. And the landscaping, lighting, and water features will add to the universal appeal. â€œWe envision downtown office workers and our growing downtown residential population using this garden,â€ the Mayor continued, â€œWe envision Cardinals fans strolling through it before and after games. We envision families having picnics on it. We envision visitors to the Arch and Old Courthouse venturing into downtown to enjoy it. We envision people driving in from all the metropolitan area, and we envision art enthusiasts and other tourists from all over the world coming here to see it. â€œIn short,â€ the Mayor concluded, â€œjust a couple blocks from Busch Stadium, we think St. Louis is going to have another home run.
And we are enormously thankful to the Gateway Foundation for their generosity. This is one of the largest and most exciting gifts this City has received in many years.â€ The two blocks, covering 2.9 acres, are owned by the City. They are part of the 1.2 mile-long Gateway Mall, which stretches from the Old Courthouse on Broadway to Union Station. The City is currently overseeing the creation of a master plan for the Mall.
Are they kidding me with this? Oh, 2007 is the first someone envisioned visitors coming to the mall. Give me a f-ing break! We already have “world-class art”, eight pieces of rusted core-ten steel known as Twain. This “installation” has been around since 1982 and that area isn’t exactly teaming with people.
I think KSDK got it right in their report from last week:
Each year some three million people visit the Gateway Arch. By building a $20 million urban garden just four blocks west, the hope is to lure those visitors to downtown.
Hope being the key word. The Mayor is hoping this vision, unlike all the past visions, will actually work. And it will, at least initially. Even St. Louis Centre had large crowds at first.
Again, part of what really has me upset is the process, legislation is already being introduced to the Board of Aldermen and, per the St. Louis Business Journal, “Nelson Byrd Woltz of Charlottesville, Va., was selected as the landscape design firm.” Nothing against this firm but we’ve not seen any conceptional drawings or heard any presentations. Again, the public presentation is this evening, June 11, 2007 at 6:30pm in the main rotunda of City Hall, Tucker & Market.
Please excuse me if I don’t get too optimystic about the Gateway Mall being overrun by throngs of people in the future.
UPDATE 6/11/07 @ 2pm — Keep the comments coming! I have just seen the full plan and talked with numerous members of the design team, including Thomas Balsley. I’m out of time at the moment but after this evening I will do a full review, sharing what I like and what I dislike of the overall plan. That post will focus on the planning concepts, not about historic and politics. I encourage everyone to attend tonight so that you can see the plan for yourself.
UPDATE 6/11/07 @ 10pm —- Just a few clarifcations. First, tonight’s presentation was considered preliminary so things are still up in the air— except for the Urban Garden which is a lock due to the “gift.” The garden, btw, is three blocks — 8th to 11th and including the Serra piece. The next meeting will be held in late July, also in City Hall in room 2008 — I’ll post the date once I have it. Rollin Stanley will be uploading tonight’s presentation here on 6/12/07. The $20 million figure for the urban garden is a guess at this point — no hard numbers although I’m told that guess includes the art work as well. A full professional analysis coming later this week after I’ve downloaded the presentation and crafted my own alternates.
UPDATE 6/13/07 @ 8am – Monday evenings presentation is now posted on the city’s website as a PDF.Â Click here to view the PDF.