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Readers: Mixed-Use Building Better Than Laclede’s Landing Park

I agree with the majority of the voters in last week’s poll, a mixed-use building would be better than a park in Laclede’s Landing!

The planned park space is to the right of the trucks parked in the alley, click for larger image.
The planned park space is to the right of the trucks parked in the alley, click to view larger image.

Q: Great Rivers Greenway Bought Laclede’s Landing Property, Plans Park. Thoughts?

  1. A mixed-use building would be better 53 [51.96%]
  2. A park is a good idea 21 [20.59%]
  3. A residential building would be better 15 [14.71%]
  4. A Taco Bell with drive-thru would be better 4 [3.92%]
  5. Other: 4 [3.92%]
    1. greenway along the river
    2. “Other Compatable Development” appears to leave much open to consideration.
    3. Park? Restrooms? Sounds like a great place for the homeless!
    4. It’s a nasty dirty area
  6. Unsure/No Answer 3 [2.94%]
  7. A parking garage would be better 2 [1.96%]

Laclede’s Landing is barely a place anymore, with so many holes in the formerly urban fabric. Between grassy blocks are harsh surface parking lots, it’s clear there needs to be a plan to infill some of these holes with new construction. It make take 20 years to happen, but the planning needs to happen now.

The site of the former Switzer Building, recently purchased by Great Rivers Greenway, is shown with the red X. Click to view in Google Maps.
The site of the former Switzer Building, recently purchased by Great Rivers Greenway, is shown with the red X. Click to view in Google Maps.

With such a tiny amount of land between the King & Eads bridges I think every bit should get filled in. Knowing that isn’t likely, the land closer to the south should be filled in while land to the north isn’t as critical to completing streetscapes and urban vistas.

But if Great Rivers Greenway goes ahead with this park next to the Eads Bridge, what should we call it? Eads Transit Park?

Metro dedicated the Eads Transit Park on May 16, 1996. I'm not sure what year they padlocked it.
Metro dedicated the Eads Transit Park on May 16, 1996. I’m not sure what year they padlocked it.

A tiny park next to a massive park that is growing in size by the size of the Arch parking garage and the width of Washington Ave is a huge mistake! This land is an opportunity to add much-needed building mass, people, activity, etc right next to a light rail station. Great Rivers Greenway can’t get into the development business but I’d think they could buy and hold for a developer. If they really have the urge to green up Laclede’s Landing they could unlock Metro’s Eads Transit Park and/or do something with the mess under the King Bridge.

This land needs help that Great Rivers Greenway could provide, a green park extending toward the city from the riverfront leading cyclists up and into Laclede's Landing.
This land needs help that Great Rivers Greenway could provide, a green park extending toward the city from the riverfront leading cyclists up and into Laclede’s Landing.


Hopefully Great Rivers Greenway will reconsider, so the land adjacent to the Eads Bridge might someday see new constriction. Maybe a demonstration is needed to convince them?

— Steve Patterson

 

Arch Topping 50th Anniversary Just Two Years Away

October 28, 2013 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on Arch Topping 50th Anniversary Just Two Years Away
ABOVE: This should be the view three years from today.
This planned view three years from today

Two years from today marks the 50th anniversary of the topping of the Gateway Arch. October 28th wasn’t the original date, but delays happen:

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mayor Alfonso J. Cervantes decided on a date for the topping out ceremony, but the arch had not been completed by then. The ceremony date was reset to October 17, 1965, and workers strained to meet the deadline, taking double shifts, but by October 17, the arch was still not complete. The chairman of the ceremony anticipated the ceremony to be held on October 30, a Saturday, to allow 1,500 schoolchildren, whose signatures were to be placed in a time capsule, to attend. Ultimately, the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel(Warren, Pa) set the ceremony date to October 28.

The time capsule, containing the signatures of 762,000 students and others, was welded into the keystone before the final piece was set in place. On October 28, the arch was topped out as then Vice President Hubert Humphrey observed from a helicopter. A Catholic priest and a rabbi prayed over the keystone, a 10 short tons (9.1 t), 8 feet (2.4 m)-long triangular section. It was slated to be inserted at 10:00 a.m. local time but was done 30 minutes early because thermal expansion had constricted the 8.5-foot gap at the top by 5 inches (13 cm). To mitigate this, workers used fire hoses to spray water on the surface of the south leg to cool it down and make it contract. The keystone was inserted in 13 minutes,[30] only 6 inches (15 cm) remained. For the next section, a hydraulic jack had to pry apart the legs six feet. The last section was left only 2.5 feet (0.76 m). By 12:00 p.m., the keystone was secured. Some filmmakers, in hope that the two legs would not meet, had chronicled every phase of construction. (Wikipedia)

So 48 years ago delays were common. In fact, it was years later before the Arch opened to visitors. Landscaping came later as well.

MoDOT recently closed Washington @ I-70 to rework the intersection before Memorial Drive is closed for construction of the lid/park
MoDOT recently closed Washington @ I-70 to rework the intersection before Memorial Drive is closed for construction of the lid/park

What will be completed in two years, what won’t be? Word is still that Kiener Plaza will be done as this is key to directing visitors to the newly planned museum entrance from various downtown parking garages.  That must happen so the existing garage on the north end can be razed.

— Steve Patterson

 

Future Gateway Mall ‘Civic Room’ Needs To Be Designed Without Curbs

Event areas shouldn’t have curbs! Yes, in most areas curbs are necessary for water flow and keeping cars off sidewalks. Yesterday I posted about a conflict between major events and transit access, primarily at 14th @ Chestnut. Today is about curbs — actually my wish for no curbs when a festival area gets designed in the Gateway Mall.

The problem with holding events in an area not designed for events is crowd control and accessibility. Here crowd control blocks access to the curb ramps
The problem with holding events in an area not designed for events is crowd control and accessibility. Here crowd control blocks access to the curb ramps
The two blocks of Washington Ave feature a mostly curb-free design
The two blocks of Washington Ave feature a mostly curb-free design

When the two blocks of Washington Ave from Tucker to 14th are closed for an event the design doesn’t present accessibility issues.

Of course there are many other issues to consider when designing a festival area: power distribution, lighting, sound, sanitation, etc.  Flexibility is important too. Event planners need to be a part of the planning & design process.

— Steve Patterson

 

Forget Smelling Roses, I Stop To Take Pictures Along The Way

Leaving the Missouri History Museum the other night I just had to stop and snap a few pictures. Here was the best one.

The Missouri History Museum
The Missouri History Museum

It was a beautiful evening, almost chilly out — in August!  Have a great weekend everyone.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Gateway Mall Still Unloved, Conservancy Resigned, Advisory Board Kept In Dark

Just a few years ago I was optimistic about the future of the Gateway Mall, the linear park north of Market Street, stretching from Broadway to just past 20th Street. The Gateway Mall Master Plan had been adopted by the city. The Gateway Mall Advisory Board was established to ensure proposed projects met the master plan. A separate, non-profit, group, the Gateway Mall Conservancy, was formed to raise private money to implement the plan.

Peter Fischer, the man behind Citygarden via the Gateway Foundation, headed the Gateway Mall Conservancy and had a seat on the Gateway Mall Advisory Board.  Another member of the Conservancy was Emily Pulitzer. Between Fischer & Pulitzer I thought they’d be able to raise the money needed to continue work on more blocks of the park.

From a press release from Mayor Slay:

March 12, 2010 – Mayor Francis Slay convened the first meeting of the newly formed Gateway Mall Conservancy Board yesterday. The purpose of the Board is to facilitate the planning, design, funding and execution efforts for the entire Gateway Mall, which runs from the Old Courthouse west to past Union Station.

The Gateway Mall Master Plan, formally adopted by the City of St. Louis in July of last year, provides the City with a comprehensive vision for transforming downtown’s central park into an outstanding open space. Building on this long-range vision, the Plan creates an overall framework to guide future individual proposals within the Mall.

“This is an important step in building on the momentum created by the opening of Citygarden last summer,” Slay said. “This Board is made up of individuals who can provide executive, civic, and fundraising energy and leadership. They each have already contributed to our community in so many ways.”

Named to the Gateway Mall Conservancy Board were Peter Fischer, Gateway Foundation; Robert Archibald, Missouri Historical Society; Steve Cousins, Armstrong Teasdale LLP; John Ferring, Plaze, Inc.; David Mesker, retired, A.G. Edwards; Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts; Kitty Ratcliffe, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission; Henry S. Webber, Washington University; Josephine Weil, Community Volunteer; and Patricia Roland-Hamilton as Executive Director.

Also announced today was the formation of the Gateway Mall Advisory Board, a group of stakeholders responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Gateway Mall Master Plan and providing ongoing community input about the Gateway Mall. Its composition and responsibilities are outlined by City ordinance.

Its role is to oversee and review compliance with the Plan and provide review of proposed modifications to the Plan. Members of the Board constitute a part of the public review process and have the authority to conduct a public review of any proposed expansion, modification, replacement, relocation, adaptive re-use, or removal of existing roads, paths, parking lots, recreation areas or natural areas.

“It’s critical to ensure we adhere to the vision set forth in the Master Plan,” said Gary Bess, the City’s Director of Parks, Recreation & Forestry. “We will look to this group to assist us in doing so.”  (Press Release PDF)

I was among those appointed to the Gateway Mall Advisory Board, rather than just be a critic on the outside I had an appointed seat at the table.

But there were early signs it wouldn’t last. Peter Fischer wouldn’t authorize the funds to renew the domain GatewayMall.org, so the initial website disappeared. Executive Director Tricia Roland-Hamilton’s email address, [email protected], ceased working when the domain shut down. She then had to use her personal email account. So much for having a place to let citizens understand what this appointed body was doing.

Summer view of Kiener Plaza, concept approved by the Gateway Mall Advisory Board in January 2011
Summer view of Kiener Plaza, concept approved by the Gateway Mall Advisory Board in January 2011

We rejected one proposal in 2012 and in 2011 gave preliminary approval to changes to Kiener Plaza:

Andy [Trivers] then introduced guests Donald Stastny and Nate Trevethan. Nate, representing Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, presented the vision for Kiener Plaza, as prepared as part of the entire Arch grounds project. Donald and Nate also used models to present the preliminary vision to the Board.

The initial vision calls for removal of the amphitheater, the addition of a Beer Garden and Café, a Pavilion, Playground and Carousel. The schematic design also calls for the continuance of the “Hallway” along the northern edge of Market Street, special lighting, and an event lawn.

This presentation is the initial step in the Project Approval Process for privately funded projects within the Gateway Mall. On a motion by Byron Marshall and seconded by Jack Reis, the Board approved the preliminary prospectus. (Gateway Mall Advisory Board minutes from January 26, 2011)

Because Kiener Plaza was part of the master plan we had to look at proposals for change.  At the time we expected to see more detailed drawings in the future, but we never did. Apparently, as I just recently learned, the ordinance authorizing the tax vote also removed Kiener Plaza from the master plan.

Here’s an email message I received from Parks director Gary Bess after I began asking questions:

As most media outlets have reported, Kiener has been included in the City Arch River Project   This point has also been included in public meetings regarding the project   When the ordinance was passed authorizing the CAR project/tax, Kiener was dropped from the Gateway Mall Plan and included in CAR  We were informed in February that in light of the above change the Conservancy was transferring all previous design work to CityArchRiver further indicating that the Conservancy  believed it has done all it could do to move the Kiener project forward and felt others could help in moving the the implementation of the master plan West of Tucker forward and resigned

Assumed you knew about Kiener’s inclusion in the CAR project based upon media and public meeting  The Conservancy is a private not for profit and chose not to publicly announce their resignations  i respect this decision    The City will look for new options on private funding for the Mall project West of Tucker.  The good news of course is projects East of Tucker are complete and/or funded.
I know of no funding to renovate this block or 2 others east of Tucker.
I know of no funding to renovate this block or 2 others east of Tucker.

I’m disappointed and angry — mostly at myself for thinking somehow this would be different than previous plans. I’m angry at Peter Fisher for turning down a skate park west of Tucker because it wasn’t dignified enough for his sensibilities. We could’ve had a great skate park in operation by now, but we don’t!!  I kept my mouth shut because I had a seat at the table, I was trying hard to be a good player, working within the system.

I informed the other members of the Gateway Mall Advisory Board (expired & current) of this news via email Sunday evening.

— Steve Patterson

 

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