Earlier in the week a new tunnel under I-70 connecting Baer Plaza (East of the Edward Jones Dome) and Lumiere Place casino in Laclede’s Landing opened to the public. St Louis Development Co. head Rodney Crim suggested the city wants convention goers, “when not in session and looking for things to do” to take the tunnel to the casino and Laclede’s Landing. Never mind conventioneers taking a stroll down Washington Ave or other streets downtown where retailers are struggling to have enough customers. See Crim on KSDK here.
I started by heading East on Washington Ave, passing by the main entrance to the convention center, aka America’s Center. Of course the taxi stand on the sidewalk gets more space than us pedestrians. I can tell you that being in a wheelchair heading straight on toward a taxi that is moving toward me is not a comforting feeling. Oh the driver saw me as he repeatedly tapped his horn as he drove off. Behind the cabs was a St Louis police car that was so far to the right I had to go to the left to get around it. Welcome to St Louis.
When I got to 7th I turned left as I figured conventioneers might use the courtyard/plaza doors as their starting point for their walk to the casino. Above is looking back South from the plaza entry at 7th & Convention Plaza. As a side note Convention Plaza used to be Delmar but it was renamed when it ran in front of the original convention center. Later in the early 1990s when the center was expanded to the current configuration the street go cut off by the building. So now we have this short section of Convention Plaza on both the East & West sides of the center. It should have reverted back to the name Delmar.
Leaving the circle drive area at 7th & Convention Plaza we see surface parking lot and the back of the Drury Inn.
Heading East toward Baer Plaza & Lumiere Link we are along the side of the Edward Jones Dome. I’m not sure why street trees were not part of the plan when this was built but thet are sorely needed. The Jersey barriers were likely added after the Oklahoma City bombing or after 9/11.
Almost to Broadway now and we see a nice collection of Jersey barriers, seemingly blocking our path across the street.
Above, I want to cross Broadway which is to my left but I can’t get my wheelchair close enough to the pedestrian signal button (it is the one on the right on the light pole).
Above is the same pole and signal button from another angle. The ramp to cross Broadway is to the left of all the Jersey barriers you see. Current ADA guidelines require signal buttons to be closer to where they are needed.
Finally we make it. I can’t believe that Rodney Crim wants visitors to make that walk — it has to be among the worst in the city. I’d hope conventioneers would never see this side of the dome — instead making their way down Washington Ave to see sidewalk dining and increasingly active sidewalks.
So we are now at the entry to Lumiere Link. We are at Baer Plaza. Who?
Robert J. Baer was the first chairman of the St Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority. Baer was also the former head of Bi-State Development and he took over the position again at Metro after Larry Salci had a very public crash & burn. From the plaque:
“Preservation of land for this park reflects Mr Baer’s recognition for ‘green space’ as an attractive front yard for the Stadium/Convention Center.”
With the trees now mature this has the potential for a decent public space. Sadly it has no natural users as the area is pretty desolate. Although now we have people coming and going to the casino and maybe a few to Laclede’s Landing beyond the casino. So how attractive is this front yard? Above you can see the weeds popping up between the seams in the concrete, not a good start.
All around the edges is debris from the trees.
There is even part of a dumpster lid. The whole plaza looks and feels rather abandoned. This is not St Louis putting it’s best foot forward. You’d think someone from the Visitor Commission or whomever has responsibility for this space might had tidied up a bit before the opening of the new tunnel.
Visitors to the tunnel have three choices for the decent — stairs, an escalator or an elevator. At the other end of the tunnel you end up right smack in the middle of the complex. You are not on the casino floor of course because you must show ID and such to enter the gaming area. Still you can see the games and certainly the restaurants.
The interior was more posh than I expected. Pity they had to go and ruin it with all the gaming machines. I also have to wonder how of the $8 million for the tunnel was in video screens. Despite the richness of the whole place I couldn’t wait to get out. I may use the link again so that I can check out the exterior of the casino & hotel as it looms over what little remains of Laclede’s Landing.
Overall I think the link is a good thing — the more connections across I-70 the better. If only the route to get to the tunnel wasn’t so pathetic.