Right after CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation had announced its latest tally in private funding to spruce up the Gateway Arch grounds, sportscaster Joe Buck helped push the total a little higher.
Buck told patrons lunching in Ballpark Village that the group was within $20 of raising an even $178,210,000. He managed to coax somebody wearing a Chicago Blackhawks jersey to hand over $100, prompting the room full of St. Louis Blues fans to cheer.
Buck – who helped emcee CityArchRiver’s event announcing the fundraising figure – said he was impressed by the project’s progress.
“I think it’s phenomenal that through a lot of hard work, they’ve been able to raise over $178 million for something that is not going to be ringing a cash register,” said Buck. “I mean, this is really, purely for the beautification of Downtown St. Louis.”
The private funds are a major part of the $380 million public-private partnership to overhaul the grounds around the Arch, the Old Courthouse and Kiener Plaza. The $178 million figure is about 70 percent of CityArchRiver’s $250 million goal for private fundraising. Of that money, $221 million would pay for capital costs and the remaining $29 million would endow a conservancy.
The private funds will go specifically toward refurbishing the museum under the Arch, funding exhibits at the museum, making improvements in the Old Courthouse and planting trees and flowers around the Arch grounds.
The Taylor Family – which started Enterprise Holdings – is credited with helping to raise $73 million since November 2013. The Emerson Charitable Trust and the Monsanto Company helped contribute $10 million. Other major donors include Boeing, Edward Jones, Express Scripts and Pinnacle Entertainment.
“We can all play a role in the project’s success,” said Carolyn Kindle, vice president and executive director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation. “When CityArchRiver 2015 is complete, we will have a dynamic, vibrant, easily accessible community destination. A place where we’ll bring our families, take a walk, read a book, people-watch – the list is endless.”
“We’re not there yet," she added. "But we’re certainly getting close.”
Attorney Walter Metcalfe is chairman of the CityArchRiver 2015 foundation. He attributed the fundraising total to the enthusiasm of some of the city’s top business executives, such as Emerson CEO David Farr and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, toward the project.
“These people run just top-notch organizations with top-notch results,” Metcalfe said. “And they know how important this monument is to our life.”
The CityArchRiver project is also getting federal, state and local funds. That money will help pay for new pathways and trails, accessibility improvement, and the construction of a park over Interstate 70.
About $69 million is already available through existing federal, state and local funds, much of which are going for transportation-related aspects of the project. And proceeds from 3/16ths of one cent sales tax will fund $90 million worth of work that includes safety and accessibility improvements for walkways, bus drop offs and lighting.
CityArchRiver officials had originally wanted to finish the entire project by the Arch’s 50th birthday – October 28, 2015. But late last year, officials announced that some components – including the museum, an overhaul of Kiener Plaza and some tree plantings – won’t be finished until 2016.
Metcalfe said, however, that the private fundraising total should send a message that the project is on track.
“It’s not about ideas now. It’s about execution,” Metcalfe said. “And I think the public can trust the rest of us now.”