Last month I wrote Cortex District Needs A Pedestrian Circulation Plan Before IKEA Is Built knowing a master plan was in the works, or had already been approved. Still, I couldn’t find a copy online. I began emailing CORTEX directly, and then others, until January 10th when I got the response I was looking for:
Good morning, Steve:
John Hoal forwarded me your query about the Cortex Station Area Plan report. I spoke with SLDC, who confirmed that the report was not, in fact, posted on-line. The report has since been posted to SLDC’s website, and the link to the report materials is included below.
Thanks, Steve. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or require further information.
Turns out the report was finalized in October 2012! Fifteen months later, after my inquiries, it was made available online. This work was funded by tax payers and should’ve been made available when finalized:
The work that provided the basis of this publication was supported by funding under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through East-West Gateway Council of Governments. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government or the East-West Gateway Council of Governments. (Page 2)
Ok, it’s online now so let’s take a look:
From the objective at the start:
Originally developed as a light-industrial enclave, the CORTEX district faces major challenges moving forward to make itself feel welcoming, pedestrian-friendly, and fundamentally connected to its surrounding neighborhoods and amenities. (Page 6)
The Transit Oriented Development Study (TOD) for the CORTEX District (the Study) seeks to establish projections for net new riders on the MetroLink light rail system over a 20-year planning horizon resulting from the construction of a new MetroLink station in the CORTEX District. This Study is focused on proposed ridership projections based on planned investments in CORTEX and the surrounding areas. Metro Saint Louis Transit and the Bi-State Development Agency (Metro), owners and operators of the MetroLink and MetroBus transit systems, have established target thresholds as goals for proposed stations.
This station will be an invaluable asset in the future development potential of both the CORTEX district and the region-wide MetroLink system. The proposed station has the potential to function both as a transit option for current and future area residents and employees, as well as a major amenity and connective element for the surrounding neighborhoods and residents. In order to capitalize on years of public and private investment and attract and retain the best and the brightest, it is imperative that development in the CORTEX district unlocks the latent potential present in the district’s enviable location in the heart of Saint Louis. The City of Saint Louis, Metro, and CORTEX possess a significant opportunity to recreate the district as a key link between surrounding neighborhoods, with the ability to tie these neighborhoods together with public spaces, great pedestrian streets, mixed-use development, and multi-modal transit access. (Page 6-7)
The first “consensus issue” surrounding CORTEX is listed as:
1. Forest Park Avenue is perceived as unfriendly to bikes and pedestrians for east-west travel and crossing. (Page 11)
Really? The planning process gets into trouble when too much weight is given to public input. Forest Park Avenue has what they want to create one block south on Duncan Ave.; on-street parking which separates traffic from pedestrians, tree lawns with mature trees, etc. But a few neighbors that probably don’t walk indicated they don’t like Forest Park Ave., possibly because they were steered that way, so it’s dismissed as an east-west pedestrian route. The crossings do need to be improved to get people into the CORTEX District and to/from the proposed MetroLink station.
Under “scenerio 1″ to increase transit ridership they list:
Focus TOD residential and mixed-use development between Sarah Avenue and Vandeventer Avenue and extend planned Duncan Avenue streetscape improvements east to Vandeventer. (Page 14)