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As St. Louis Builds A Small Park Over A Highway…A Look At Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park

June 16, 2015 Featured, Parks, Travel 11 Comments

As work continues on the “lid” over the highway, now called I-44,  that divides downtown St. Louis from the Arch grounds I thought we should take a look at another recent park-over-highway project — Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park:

Klyde Warren Park creates an urban green space constructed over a section of the below-grade Woodall Rodgers Freeway, for 3 blocks between Pearl Street and St. Paul Street. It provides connectivity to the city’s flourishing Arts District from other neighborhoods, brings together cultural events and experiences, and serves as a central public gathering space for Dallas residents and visitors to enjoy.

Designed by landscape architecture firm, The Office of James Burnett, the park features flexible, pedestrian-oriented design, offering a mix of active and passive spaces, which include a children’s park, reading room, great lawn, restaurant, performance pavilion, fountain plaza, games area, urban dog park, and botanical garden around a sweeping pedestrian promenade.. A 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) restaurant and performance stage, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners, is in the center of the park. In addition it provides jogging trails, a dog park, a children’s playground, and an area for games. (Wikipedia)

The idea of building a park over the recessed highway had been discussed since the highway was built in the 1960s. As an architecture student in the late 80s I visited I.M. Pei’s then-new Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in 1989, thinking the location, next to this wide ditch, was awful. Though I’d been to Dallas since then, I hadn’t seen the Meyerson again until last month.

26 years after seeing the new building, I passed by Dallas' symphony hall on their free D-Link bus.
26 years after seeing the new building, I passed by Dallas’ symphony hall on their free D-Link bus. Click image for map link.

The new trees are now mature, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough juice in my wheelchair to get closer. Besides, I was about to cross over the highway and in a block be at my destination.

Looking right I saw the highway that had long been a divider, the other direction was the new Klyde Warren Park
Looking right I saw the highway that had long been a divider, the other direction was the new Klyde Warren Park. View from Pearl St
Normally the D-Lkink bus would've crossed through the park on Olive but they close it during busiest times -- otherwise it's open.
Normally the D-Lkink bus would’ve crossed through the park on Olive but they close it during busiest times — otherwise it’s open.
Vehicles & the D-Link bus are rerouted when Olive is closed, but their vintage trolley line gets to cut through.
Vehicles & the D-Link bus are rerouted when Olive is closed, but their M-Line vintage trolley gets to cut through for obvious reasons. Click image for more information on this line.
This is like he 'hallway' our Gateway Mall is supposed to have, right now we only have 2 blocks in Citygarden
This is like he ‘hallway’ our Gateway Mall is supposed to have, right now we only have 2 blocks in Citygarden
Like Citygarden, this park has a botanical side. It's also city-owned but managed by a foundation.
Like Citygarden, this park has a botanical side. It’s also city-owned but managed by a foundation.
It's nearly 80% bigger the Citygarden, has more diverse areas as a result.
It’s nearly 80% bigger the Citygarden, has more diverse areas as a result.
The upscale restaurant was packed the Saturday night I was there,
The upscale restaurant was packed the Saturday night I was there,
Here you see people at the upscale restaurant (left) and regular park patrons sitting at movable tables & chairs located throughout the park (right).
Here you see people at the upscale restaurant (left) and regular park patrons sitting at movable tables & chairs located throughout the park (right).
The Congress for the New Urbanism/CNU23 closing party was at the self-serve end of the building
The Congress for the New Urbanism/CNU23 closing party was at the self-serve end of the building
'Retrofitting Suburbia' author Ellen Dunham Jones invited me to join her to chat, we finally met the day before. We'd communicated via email for years.
‘Retrofitting Suburbia’ author Ellen Dunham Jones invited me to join her to chat, we finally met the day before. We’d communicated via email for years. Selfie without a selfie stick… Click image to view her 2010 TED Talk.
The restaurant building has restrooms accessed from the outside, but the capacity isn't enough &/or isn't visible enough. -- so porta-potties are added in a few parking spots.
The restaurant building has restrooms accessed from the outside, but the capacity isn’t enough &/or isn’t visible enough. — so porta-potties are added in a few parking spots.
Like St. Louis, they didn't think about how wheelchair users would reach the disabled john.
Like St. Louis, they didn’t think about how wheelchair users would reach the disabled john. #curb
The South block has a big open area where people can kick balls around, etc
The South block has a big open area where people can kick balls around, etc
The big open field
The big open play field
An area on the edge for parking, left, is used by many food trucks during events.
An area on the edge for parking, left, is used by many food trucks during events.
By planning ahead, the food tricks lined up here for hours can all plug into outlets rather than run noisy polluting generators. I was able to plug in  my chair, grab a bite, and people watch.
By planning ahead, the food tricks lined up here for hours can all plug into outlets rather than run noisy polluting generators. I was able to plug in my chair, grab a bite, and people watch.

Of course, a 5.2 acre park built over a highway didn’t come cheap:

The $110 million project was funded through a public-private partnership. Public support included $20 million in bond funds from the City of Dallas, $20 million in highway funds from the state and $16.7 million in stimulus funds. The balance of funding is through individual donors directly to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.

Klyde Warren Park is owned by the City of Dallas and privately operated and managed by the private Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. The Foundation studied great public parks across the country and plans to bring best practices to the park’s operations, programming and maintenance.

I’d say it’s worth every penny! Over the coming 25 years it’ll help mend areas long-separated because of the highway. I love that the foundation must also program the space, wish the Gateway Foundation had to do the same at Citygarden, and that 9th Street would remain open except for during events/weekends.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Nice project. Now let’s do the math. $110 million buys a 3-block-long park. It can also buy a streetcar line or put 500 cops on the street for a year. $110 million is 10% of St. Louis city’s TOTAL operating budget for 2015. This is a vanity project for the 1%, connecting several arts institutions, funded by wealthy donors. But, I’ll repeat – it is a nice project. It’s also an example of priorities . . .

     
    • Here’s some more math. From various sources they spent $21.15 million per acre, connecting the residential, office, & cultural buildings on both sides.

      For our Citygarden the Gateway Foundation spent $8.62-$10.34 million per acre. Two restaurants have closed due to lack of customers. The current restaurant is only open 11-3pm.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        And then there is Forest Park Forever – “Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box.” http://www.forestparkforever.org/news/ Again, it’s all about priorities and “bang for the buck”!

         
        • John R says:

          I think CityGarden and Forest Park were excellent priorities for donors. A great boost for Citygarden usage simply would be getting One AT&T Center re-occupied.

           
  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    This is a great park. My friends would drive down here (from Whiterock Lake) and take the kids for an afternoon. There is a great kids playground with wonderful water features. It’s always very busy and food trucks are walkways there. It transforms that part of downtown.

     
  3. Mark-AL says:

    The size of its Citygarden isn’t among STL’s greatest challenges, and Citygarden’s size has very little to do with its reduced/diminishing attendance rates. STL’s major challenge should be to get a handle on its crime rate. 80+/- crimes to date….and probably growing! (As of April 2015, Dallas reported around 25 murders, which is even more significant when you consider their size, population and diverse ethnicity.) But it appears that for some reason, the average STL resident suffers from either apathy or ignorance, or a combination of each. How/why would a thinking constituency elect, then reelect a mayor and sheriff or otherwise allow their police chief to remain employed when it obviously isn’t safe to walk the streets of STL after 5 PM? If you double the size of Citygarden, even triple it, do you actually think you’ll attract more families? I think if you’d double the size of the police force, hire a police chief who might have a better handle on crime-fighting strategy, you MIGHT attract more families to the public/open venues in and around STL, including Citygarden. Seriously, why would parents risk taking their kids to a downtown outside venue like Citygarden, when just a few blocks away, recently, people have been indiscriminately gun-downed, robbed and assaulted? Sorry to say, but they can quadruple the size of Citygarden, attempt to dazzle me with mind-blowing amenities, but as long as STL essentially ignores the crime that pervades and characterizes the city, I’m not going to suggest a family trip there anytime soon.

     
    • Mark-AL says:

      should read: 80 +/- MURDERS to date.

       
    • John R. says:

      Any risk of parents taking their kids to a downtown outside venue like Citygarden is extremely low. Have you ever been to Citygarden? It is full of kids and families.

       
  4. John R says:

    Steve,who does do the programming for Citygarden?

     
    • What programming?

       
      • John R says:

        Was that a snark that there isn’t much programming? But seriously, the food trucks and bands. watch parties, bubble bus, etc. You said you wished Gateway Fndn. programmed things so I was just curious who was responsible instead.

         

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