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The Future of Grant’s Farm is Uncertain

The future of Grant’s Farm is coming between siblings — children of the late August Anheuser “Gussie” Busch, Jr. (1899-1989). I find it unsettling to see wealthy siblings, in their 50s & 60s, disagreeing m public.

Before I go any further, I have a confession: I’ve never been inside the gates of Grant’s Farm or the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site located across…Grant Rd. I’ve certainly driven past on Gravois many times, even exploring the perimeter like Pardee Rd. On Sunday we drove around the site completely. Though the site contains many buildings, it’s still very much unspoiled nature.

The Gravois Rd entry gates to Grant's Farm
The Gravois Rd entry gates to Grant’s Farm

One comment on the Sunday Poll post was:

FYI your 3rd choice isn’t an option. Do a little research on what municipality Grant’s Farm lies in and what it’s zoning laws and ordinances are. Also look up what part lies in a flood plain. Not going to have to worry about any commercial or residential development here!

While poll answers are presented in random order, this was a reference to the poll answer: “Sell to a developer for houses &/or retail”  Not only is it possible, this is the concern of the four Busch siblings that would like to sell the animal preserve to the St. Louis Zoo.

Four Anheuser-Busch heirs worry that their brother, Billy Busch, will turn Grant’s Farm into a subdivision.

No one man can finance and maintain the sprawling South St. Louis County animal park, said Trudy Busch Valentine and Andy Busch. It’s just too expensive.

They have seen housing plat maps already drafted for the Grant’s Farm land, they both said, and know it’s an option for any owner if times get tough.

Billy Busch responded, saying he wouldn’t sell off land. St. Louis County classifies the land as single family, Grantwood Village has it zoned “Animal Preserve.” The Lindbergh School District would likely object to a loss of tax revenue if it went to the Zoo.

County records show the site as 214 acres, though news reports say 198 acres
County records show the site as 214 acres, though news reports say 198 acres
Parking & farm land on the East side of Grant Rd is a different ownership from the trust.
Parking & farm land on the East side of Grant Rd is a different ownership from the trust.
Pedestrian entrance from Grant Rd parking lot
Pedestrian entrance from Grant Rd parking lot
The National site is less than 9 acres
The National site is less than 9 acres

Here are the results of the Sunday Poll:

Q: Six Busch siblings can’t agree on Grant’s Farm, what would you like to see happen?

  1. William “Billy” Busch buys it, builds Kräftig Brewery on part, allows Zoo to use part. 31 [58.49%]
  2. St. Louis Zoo buys it, the region fund a new sales tax to cover annual operating expenses. 12 [22.64%]
  3. Stay as is, owned by the family trust & operated at an annual loss by AB InBev 9 [16.98%]
  4. Other — county buys, becomes affordable housing: 1 [1.89%]
  5. Sell to a developer for houses &/or retail 0 [0%]

A century ago such a family would’ve donated the land to the Zoo, along with an endowment to help cover upkeep. Are taxpayers willing to pay to keep this land as an animal preserve? Doubtful. The future seems uncertain.

— Steve Patterson

 

Aloe Plaza Lighting Is Too Bright

Aloe Plaza, across Market Street from Union Station, used to be very dark at night — too dark. While Kacie Starr Triplett was Alderman of the 6th Ward new lighting was added. The best that can be said is that it’s no longer dark.

Two new light poles were added to shine lights on Carl Milles' "Meeting of the Waters":, October 22nd
Two new light poles were added to shine lights on Carl Milles’ “Meeting of the Waters”:, October 22nd

From a distance, the lighting does a good job.  Before nobody wanted to be there after dark because it too dark, but now it’a too bright! Trying to get a good photo with Union Station in the background is impossible.

 

Not sure how much was spent on this lighting, or if it can be modified. It shouldn’t stay like this.

— Steve Patterson

 

Weekend View From The Eads Bridge

Over the weekend we walked down to see the progress at Luther Ely Smith Square, and the Arch. before heading back to our loft we went out on the pedestrian walkway of the Eads Bridge.

Laclede's Landing building that lost pare of a wall last month
Laclede’s Landing building that lost pare of a wall last month
Looking out where the Arch garage used to be
Looking out where the Arch garage used to be
With the Arch in the background
With the Arch in the background
Looking back toward downtown
Looking back toward downtown
The wall conceals the train tracks, part of the historic landscape design .
The wall/lookout (left) conceals the train tracks, part of the historic landscape design .
Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan -- raising it was delayed by flooding.
Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan — raising it was delayed by flooding.
The South end has already been raised about 4 feet.
The South end has already been raised about 4 feet.
Again, looking back toward downtown
Again, looking back toward downtown
Note sure what this was about on the Eads
Note sure what this was about on the Eads, presumably something to do with the restoration work going on below the top deck

Next nice day we have I’d encourage you to go for a walk on the Eads.  Over the next year the view below will change dramatically.

— Steve Patterson

 

CORTEX Commons Attractive, Has Accessibility Issues

The masterplan for St. Louis’ technology district, called CORTEX, included a significant green space. Originally formed in 2002, the green space is just now being completed. Here is how they describe the CORTEX campus:

The intent of the CORTEX Master Plan is to create well-designed public open spaces that will contribute significantly to the quality of life within the district, community and city. The Master Plan calls for the creation of the CORTEX Commons, a public park that will be accessible to all who work and live in the district and surrounding neighborhoods.

  • The Commons: right in front of the @4240 entrance you’ll find a beautiful green space with areas for relaxing, meeting, or just enjoying the fresh air.
  • Restaurants/Cafes: surrounding the @4240 building will be cafes, restaurants and other places to grab lunch, dinner, or have cocktails after work.
  • Living Space: within walking distance of @4240 are lofts, apartments and other living spaces that allow for a commute that is literally minutes away.
  • Shops: retail space will be part of the new Phase II expansion, providing convenient shopping and unique boutiques all within a short stroll of the office and laboratory space.
  • Transportation: getting to and from work will be simplified for those driving as well as those wishing to use public transportation. A new highway interchange at the major east-west Interstate 64 provides convenient access for drivers, plus a new MetroLink light rail station will be within a block of the @4240 building.
Concept drawing of the CORTEX Commons
Concept drawing of the CORTEX Commons

Let’s take a look, starting at the South end at S. Boyle Ave. & Clayton Ave., then moving North to Duncan Ave:

The visitor sees lush landscaping, at right is the new BJC @ The Commons building
The visitor sees lush landscaping, at right is the new BJC @ The Commons building
Turning to the left we see the sidewalk follows the curve of Boyle. The orange circle is the logo for the CORTEX Commons. In a couple of places the sidewalk make a sharp shift.
Turning to the left we see the sidewalk follows the curve of Boyle. The orange circle is the logo for the CORTEX Commons. In a couple of places the sidewalk make a sharp shift.
An open area  hardscape area to the West of the building
An open area hardscape area to the West of the building
Looking back toward Clayton we can see the sign marking the rain garden and the patio beyond. I couldn't get close enough to the sigh to read the body text. Numerous such signs throughout are also too far away to be read.
Looking back toward Clayton we can see the sign marking the rain garden and the patio beyond. I couldn’t get close enough to the sigh to read the body text. Numerous such signs throughout are also too far away to be read.
Looking North from the patio, the movable tables & chairs are better than fixed furnishings -- allows people to rearrange.
Looking North from the patio, the movable tables & chairs are better than fixed furnishings — allows people to rearrange.
Back out by the hardscape circle, looking North
Back out by the hardscape circle, looking North
Heading North on the Boyle sidewalk these plants in the rain garden are already reducing the sidewalk width. This is the only plant choice I didn't like.
Heading North on the Boyle sidewalk these plants in the rain garden are already reducing the sidewalk width. This is the only plant choice I didn’t like.
We can now see the light rail line, known as MetroLink, divides the space. Will discuss the renovated building in the background later in this post.
We can now see the light rail line, known as MetroLink, divides the space. Will discuss the renovated building in the background later in this post.
The sidewalk narrows at the track crossing, this is the low point in the experience.
The sidewalk narrows at the track crossing, this is the low point in the experience.
With the train gone we can cross.
With the train gone we can cross.
Looking back South after having crossed the two MetroLink tracks and a third extra track (nearest)
Looking back South after having crossed the two MetroLink tracks and a third extra track (nearest)
Looking back North we are again faced with the sidewalk making a hard shift to the right. The parked cars on Boyle don't have a bulb out to enclose the parking lane.
Looking back North we are again faced with the sidewalk making a hard shift to the right. The parked cars on Boyle don’t have a bulb out to enclose the parking lane.
Turning toward the Southeast we can see an unfinished spot, this is likely to connect to the new light rail station to be built. Hopefully the track crossing will be improved at that time.
Turning toward the Southeast we can see an unfinished spot, this is likely to connect to the new light rail station to be built. Hopefully the track crossing will be improved at that time.
Approaching the @4240 building
Approaching the @4240 building
Looking North. DuPont, formerly Solae, is across Boyle on the left.
Looking North. DuPont, formerly Solae, is across Boyle on the left.
Turning Eastward we see the centerpiece shade canopy.
Turning Eastward we see the centerpiece shade canopy.
Looking North at the canopy, the same movable tables & chairs are used.
Looking North at the canopy, the same movable tables & chairs are used.
Back at the sidewalk parallel with Boyle we see the first of numerous connections to draw you into the space from the edge.
Back at the sidewalk parallel with Boyle we see the first of numerous connections to draw you into the space from the edge.
The Northernmost of the connections leads right to the @4240 building entrance, more on that in a bit.
The Northernmost of the connections leads right to the @4240 building entrance, more on that in a bit.
Looking back South along the Boyle sidewalk
Looking back South along the Boyle sidewalk
Looking diagonally into the CORTEX Commons
Looking diagonally into the CORTEX Commons
Looking East along Duncan Ave, the main East-West spine in the district.
Looking East along Duncan Ave, the main East-West spine in the district.
Looking South from a position closer to the @4240 building we see another patio with the same movable furnishings. Most of this area is a metal grate over a rain garden.
Looking South from a position closer to the @4240 building we see another patio with the same movable furnishings. Most of this area is a metal grate over a rain garden.
Looking back West toward Boyle, with DuPont/Solae in the background
Looking back West toward Boyle, with DuPont/Solae in the background
Back in the Commons we can approach the @4240 building after crossing the rain garden on the metal grate pedestrian bridge -- love this!
Back in the Commons we can approach the @4240 building after crossing the rain garden on the metal grate pedestrian bridge — love this!
Another pf the informational signs that can't be read from the paved areas
Another pf the informational signs that can’t be read from the paved areas
Looking out to Boyle & Duncan we can see the South facade of the first CORTEX building. It was built without an ADA-complianfr accessible route  and hasn't yet been corrected
Looking out to Boyle & Duncan we can see the South facade of the first CORTEX building. It was built without an ADA-complianfr accessible route and hasn’t yet been corrected
The paving clearly directs the user to the entry but the the curb on this side of the drive prevents me from continuing
The paving clearly directs the user to the entry but the the curb on this side of the drive prevents me from continuing
The view out from the entry shows the accessible entry on the near side and the non-accessible curb on the far side. D'oh!
The view out from the entry shows the accessible entry on the near side and the non-accessible curb on the far side. D’oh!
The next area, connecting to accessible parking, has the same problem
The next area, connecting to accessible parking, has the same problem
And the next one, a good place for a raised crosswalk
And the next one, a good place for a raised crosswalk
And again. Clearly, someone goofed! The disabled shouldn't have to go all the way to the Duncan public sidewalk
And again. Clearly, someone goofed! The disabled shouldn’t have to go all the way to the Duncan public sidewalk
To finish on a positive, here's a detail I liked. Next to fixed benches are power outlets.
To finish on a positive, here’s a detail I liked. Next to fixed benches are power outlets.
Just lift the cover and plug in your phone, tablet, laptop, or wheelchair.
Just lift the cover and plug in your phone, tablet, laptop, or wheelchair.

I hope get CORTEX to correct the accessibility issues to the @4240 building. Read more about the building and how it is being used here.

— Steve Patterson

 

100 Days Until 50th Anniversary of Final Piece of Arch Placed

On October 28, 1965 the last piece of the Arch was lowered into place, so October 28, 2015 is the 50th anniversary of that event.

I’ve been posting the following image when discussing the CityArchRiver project for nearly 3 years now, the view is looking East from the Old Courthouse.

2012 rendering of Luther Ely Square extended over the highway, leading to the future Arch/museum entrance
2012 rendering of Luther Ely Square extended over the highway, leading to the future Arch/museum entrance

Two weeks ago, looking out from the 7th floor balcony of the CityArchRiver offices, I saw the work underway.

Construction on Luther Ely Square with the Old Courthouse in the background, the red line indicates the central sidewalk area
Construction on Luther Ely Square with the Old Courthouse in the background, the red line indicates the central sidewalk area

At first I thought we were going to have lots of people crossing 4th Street between Market & Chestnut — going to & from the Old Courthouse and Luther Ely Square & Arch. But as I put the rendering into this post I looked closely at the bottom and it looks like a wall is shown keeping pedestrians from crossing 4th Street mid-block. Or it’s a cut-out to pull over and drop people off — not sure.

Looking North along 4th, with Luther Ely Square on the right, temporary  Jersey Barrier wall on left.
Looking North along 4th, with Luther Ely Square on the right, temporary Jersey Barrier wall on left.

If there isn’t a wall people will cross mid-block. If there is a wall, pedestrians will be taken via a circuitous route.

Plans for the 50th anniversary will be announced shortly, but Luther Ely Square is supposed to be completed by then. The riverfront work maybe — the high river level has delayed the project.  If they can clean the mud off the work area quickly then it to should be complete, in a few weeks we’ll know.   Plans will include a festival the weekend before October 28th, and a ceremony that day.

Remember the original landscaping wasn’t finished until the early 80s, here’s a look from May 1982:

It has been almost five years since the CityArchRiver competition was reduced to five finalists.

The clock is ticking.

— Steve Patterson

 

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