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Gateway One/Peabody Plaza Is Here To Stay

In the 1970s/80s the City of St. Louis sought to keep the Gateway Mall marching Eastward toward the the Old Courthouse and Arch. However, there was no money to pay for it. There were also historic buildings in the blocks — the owner(s) proposed renovating the historic buildings. Another plan was selected:

Downtown business executives and union leaders created Pride Redevelopment Corp. and successfully pushed for a plan to clear the land between Kiener and Serra. Then, they would develop office towers on the north side, facing Chestnut. The revenue from the towers would underwrite costs for a “half mall” on the south side.

Over the protests of preservationists, the three notable buildings were demolished. But because the economy remained in a trough, only one tower was built: Gateway One, the 15-story sore thumb that has irked scores over the years. (Now it’s Peabody Plaza, home to Peabody Energy.) (Spotlight: Building interrupting the Gateway Mall is a mayor’s regret)

The Buder & International were imploded in August 1984, the Title Guaranty was also gone by the end of 1984. The half-mall plan called for four identical buildings — one on each of the four blocks from 6th to 10th.  More detail here.

Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Gateway One is now Peabody Plaza
Looking East from Citygarden
Looking East from Citygarden
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
The historic Western Union building facing 9th between Chestnut & Market was razed in 1993 for a 2-block passive green space as part of the Gateway Mall, later remade into Citygarden.
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background
Another 1993 photo of the Western Union building at 900 Chestnut, with the Gateway One in background, left

In hindsight, most acknowledge the half-mall plan was a mistake. It was already dead by 1993, but demolition continued. Had the buildings on the two blocks West of Gateway One not been razed the one half building wouldn’t have stood out so much. I moved to St. Louis in August 1990 — Gateway One was already complete by then, But in 1992/93 I personally argued with architect Donald Royce, telling him razing the two blocks between the Gateway One and the Serra “Twain” block was another mistake. Fifteen years later Citygarden almost makes up fir the bad decision.

Back to Gateway One.

Over the years many have said it should be torn down. I’m no fan on the building, but that’s not going to happen. Ever.

The building sold in 2006 for $65 million. For many decades the building will be too costly to raze for more park space — we can’t afford to redo the excessive park space of the Gateway Mall — we don’t need more.   Peabody has another decade remaining on their lease and the building will remain viable for decades.

Face the facts — it’s not going anywhere. Just be thankful St. Louis abandons plans before they’re finished, otherwise we’d have a total of four.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Abandons Public Review Process for The Gateway Mall

In 2010 I was appointed to represent the 6th ward on the newly formed Gateway Mall Advisory Board (GMAB). The idea was to mirror how Forest Park is managed — a conservancy made up of the wealthy to help raise money for projects and an advisory board to let the Parks Dept know if proposed projects complied with the Master Plan, or not. Initial terms were staggered, with three year terms thereafter.

From a March 12, 2010 press release:

Named to the Gateway Mall Conservancy Board were Peter Fischer, GatewayFoundation; Robert Archibald, Missouri Historical Society; Steve Cousins, ArmstrongTeasdale LLP; John Ferring, Plaze, Inc.; David Mesker, retired, A.G. Edwards; EmilyRauh Pulitzer, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts; Kitty Ratcliffe, St. Louis Convention andVisitors 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 groupof stakeholders responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Gateway MallMaster Plan and providing ongoing community input about the Gateway Mall. Itscomposition and responsibilities are outlined by City ordinance.

Things went downhill quickly, my post from August 2013: Gateway Mall Still Unloved, Conservancy Resigned, Advisory Board Kept In Dark..  At this point I’d been pressing then Parks Director Gary Bess to initiate the process to appoint myself and others whose terns expired in March 2012. See original list here.

In October 2013 Gary Bess handed out a list at the last GMAB meeting showing the terms of myself and others hadn’t yet expired — see it here. The best word to describe this lists is forged. My original term expired in March 2012 but this new document showed it expires in March 2017 — again the appointments are for three years.  Some on this list now showed up with terms expiring in 2017 — impossible since it was just 2013.  The next month I emailed Bess and others on the GMAB list to let them know of the discrepancy. Bess was going to look into it.

This attempt to create a false record didn’t surprise me, in the 3+ years we did meet, I had to constantly remind Bess of the language in the enabling ordinance and our adopted bylaws. Last year Bess retired from the city and became the St lotus county director of parks, see St. Louis County Parks Director double dipping at taxpayer expense.

On December 31, 2015 the private nonprofit Gateway Mall Conservancy was administratively dissolved by the Missouri Secretary of State. Despite being required by ordinance, the GMAB also no longer exists. Our terns all expired, nobody was reappointed or replaced with new appointees. In January 2014 I was asked by Parks & 6th Ward Alderman Ingrassia if I was willing to be reappointed, I said yes to both and submitted the form to reappointed to a public board. Nothing happened.

The Gateway Mall Master Plan calls the area around Soldiers' Memorial the "Civic Room", click image to see section
The Gateway Mall Master Plan calls the area around Soldiers’ Memorial the “Civic Room”, click image to see section

Soon the History Museum will show their plans for two blocks of the “Civic Room” which includes Soldiers’ Memorial but the public body established by ordinance to review proposals no longer exists. In 2010 I had a feeling the city would abandon the Gateway Mall, master plan, and the public review process — I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Split on Forest Park Entry Markers

In the recent unscientific Sunday Poll the readers were almost evenly split on new entry markers for Forest Park.

Mock-up of an entry marker, northeast corner of Forsythe and Skinker. Photo by Mark Beirn
Mock-up of an entry marker, northeast corner of Forsythe and Skinker. Photo by Mark Beirn

Here are the results:

Q: How do you feel about the proposed entry markers for Forest Park?

  1. TIE 10 [27.03%]
    1. Approve
    2. Disapprove
  2. TIE 6 [16.22%]
    1. Neither approve or disapprove
    2. Strongly disapprove
  3. Strongly approve 4 [10.81%]
  4. Unsure/no answer 1 [2.7%]

Count me among the 16.22% that neither approve or disapprove. I’m not opposed, I’m just not convinced. I don’t want to hear we can’t afford to design park bus stops so motorists won’t park in them if we’ve got millions for this!

— Steve Patterson

 

A Detailed Look at the Old & New Luther Ely Smith Square

December 8, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parks 2 Comments

Following the Arch’s 50th Anniversary on October 28th I posted that the Luther Ely Smith Square Flagpole Will Replace Flag on Top of Old Courthouse Dome. At the time the newly redesigned Luther Ely Smith Square wasn’t open yet. Late last month it opened.

Before taking a look at the new I thought we should first look at the old.

Looking East toward the Arch from the top of the steps at 4th Street, July 2014
Looking East toward the Arch from the top of the steps at 4th Street, July 2014
Looking West toward the Old Courthouse, October 2014
Looking West toward the Old Courthouse, October 2014
Looking North on Memorial Dr from Olive. Luther Ely Smith Square is on the left, July 2010
Looking North on Memorial Dr from Olive. Luther Ely Smith Square is on the left, July 2010
From the Arch grounds, June 2011
From the Arch grounds, June 2011

Unfortunately. these images don’t give you a good overview. For that we need to look down from somewhere high up — like the Arch.

From the Arch we see Memorial Drive on either side of the depressed interstate lanes and Luther Ely Smith Square, December 2012
From the Arch we see Memorial Drive on either side of the depressed interstate lanes and Luther Ely Smith Square, December 2012
Tighter crop focusing on the Square -- was pretty boring.
Tighter crop focusing on the Square — was pretty boring.
Construction on the "lid" over the highway, July 2014
Construction on the “lid” over the highway, July 2014

Okay, let’s take a look at the new Luther Ely Smith Square (LESS):

The current view looking East from the Old Courthouse
The current view looking East from the Old Courthouse
From the base of the new flagpole
From the base of the new flagpole
Walkways on either side of a low bern lead you tossed the Arch. The previous flight of steps in the center meant many didn't go through the Square.
Walkways on either side of a low bern lead you tossed the Arch. The previous flight of steps in the center meant many didn’t go through the Square.
Mostly the new walkways are a smooth exposed aggregate concrete, but brick was used in some locations.
Mostly the new walkways are a smooth exposed aggregate concrete, but brick was used in some locations.
Modern bike racks, that will support the bike frame, are along the South & North outer walkways.
Modern bike racks, that will support the bike frame, are along the South & North outer walkways.
Looking East along the wide sidewalk next to Olive. This will be a drop off point for Arch visitors
Looking East along the wide sidewalk next to Olive. This will be a drop off point for Arch visitors
Each side has a small oval-shaped space accessed from the outer walks or steps from the center
Each side has a small oval-shaped space accessed from the outer walks or steps from the center
From inside the South oval
From inside the South oval
Continuing East on the outer sidewalk we see the motorized bollards that can be lowered as needed. These will likely be a maintenance issue.
Continuing East on the outer sidewalk we see the motorized bollards that can be lowered as needed. These will likely be a maintenance issue.
Everything is directing you toward the new Arch entry, now under construction
Everything is directing you toward the new Arch entry, now under construction
Looking North over what was the opening down to the highway. A small platform has been built to allow you to see the construction activity.
Looking North over what was the opening down to the highway. A small platform has been built to allow you to see the construction activity.
The accessible platform allows to peak over the concrete barrier
The accessible platform allows to peak over the concrete barrier
The North side just inside the bollards seen to be the new spot where everyone is posing for pics
The North side just inside the bollards seen to be the new spot where everyone is posing for pics
What I really like are the views back to the Old Courthouse
What I really like are the views back to the Old Courthouse
Closer, from the North center walkway
Closer, from the North center walkway
Looking toward 4th & Chestnut
Looking toward 4th & Chestnut

This Square is an important part of the new plan to have visitors enter the Arch grounds from downtown. It’s well-designed and draws you toward the Arch. The lid over the highway can become the lid over a boulevard in the future.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Feelings on Proposed Entry Markers for Forest Park?

In August it was announced new entry markers would be coming to Forest Park entrances:

The City of St. Louis and the private nonprofit conservancy Forest Park Forever have announced plans to construct the first of eight new arrival markers at key Forest Park entrances. Called for in the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan, these thresholds will more formally welcome visitors arriving by foot, on bicycle and by car, clearly identify the Park’s primary and secondary entrances — especially key for visitors from around the region and country — and create welcoming nodes where visitors can meet and gather. 

At the first site selected, the popular entrance at Skinker/Wells/Clayton at the Park’s southwest edge, a temporary mock-up will be installed in fall 2015; this will allow stakeholders and the Forest Park Advisory Board — established in the Master Plan to ensure public involvement in any new capital projects in the Park — to assess scale, positioning and Park context before continuing on with construction, which is planned for 2016. Design and construction costs for this entrance are estimated to be approximately $300,000. Forest Park Forever has raised the private funds necessary to proceed and complete it. St. Louis-based SWT Design has served as the project’s designer. (Forest Park Forever — with images)

I didn’t see the temporary mock-up in person, but late last month St. Louis Public Radio had a story on pushback & support.

Please vote below
Please vote below

Today’s poll wants to see where readers stand.

As always, the answers are presented in random order. This poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

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