Everybody and their brother are going to be sharing photos and talking about the ~$380M Arch grounds renovation. T
he public will gain access to the different sections of the project as it opens in stages.
I finally had a chance to visit the recently opened northern approach that extends from the Eads Bridge and Laclede's Landing.
This has been a long train coming. I remember sitting in the public unveiling of the design competition and dreaming about all the potential designs. I also remember voting for the public tax dollars to go toward the project against my better judgement (Prop P in 2013).
In my mind, the pros were:
it is a cool project and something had to be done once the emerald ash borers kill off all the ash trees on the grounds
it'll bring some jobs and I love employment no matter how temporary
it'll improve the visitor/tourist/suburbanite experience
it might make the Arch grounds become a place where people who live in St. Louis want to be and energize the dead zone that is the riverfront and Laclede's Landing
the suburban cities in the County were pitching in too, so it wasn't just St. Louis on the local hook to fund everything (a la, NFL and MLS stadiums/parking lots)
Great Rivers Greenway isoverseeing the $9.4 million in annual funding for improvements, and I trust them...look at the work they've done to date...amazing
the major pro was that there were funds available for the city parks.
most of the money was coming from private funds:
CityArchRiver is a public-private partnership formed to fund and coordinate the design and construction of a complete renovation of the Gateway Arch grounds and its surroundings. Private donors funded the entire cost of the international design competition, Framing a Modern Masterpiece: The City + The Arch + The River, and continue to fund design costs for the project.
Construction of the $380 million project is funded in three ways:
$69 million - Public funds from federal, state and local sources such as a USDOT TIGER grant, MoDOT funds, other federal grants and funding from Great Rivers Greenway District
$90 million - Proposition P bond proceeds - On April 2, 2013 voters in St. Louis County and St. Louis City approved Proposition P: The Safe and Accessible Arch and Public Parks initiative. Great Rivers Greenway is the steward of the taxpayers’ investment in the project.
$221 million - Private funding from gifts, grants and donations raised by the CityArchRiver Foundation. The Foundation will raise another $29 million to seed an endowment that will help maintain and improve the project area into the future. (source)
And the cons (curmudgeon alert!):
using local funds for a Federal monument and grounds
St. Louis has 99 problems and the Arch ain't one of them. We should focus our efforts on things that make people want to live here not just visit here, park and leave
Anyhow, the changes are underway and the results are in plain view of the public. And, so far it looks pretty nice.
I entered the grounds from the north through Laclede's Landing, so I started by taking in the view from the Eads Bridge pedestrian lanes.
Then I walked down to ground level and entered the grounds just south of the Metrolink stop.
The real star of the show is the elevated walking bridge which allows unmatched views of Eads Bridge and takes you to a deck overlooking Lenore K. Sullivan Boulevard at the river's edge.
Three bridges to the north
Street, bike lanes, riverfront
The following photos from the CityArchRiver website show the before and after versions and how it's supposed to look after completion and plant maturation.
Before: with parking garage that is no more (photo credit CityArchRiver)
After: looking north toward Eads bridge and Laclede's Landing
(photo credit CityArchRiver)
Before: with Washington Avenue still available to traffic (photo credit CityArchRiver)
After: looking west sans Washington Avenue (photo credit CityArchRiver)
I'm looking forward to exploring the south grounds, the Interstate highway lid, Kiener Plaza and most of all, the new museum.