A historic building along the Mississippi riverfront will likely mean more amenities next year for cyclists and pedestrians along the Riverfront Trail north of downtown.
Great Rivers Greenway, a trail development agency recently purchased the Laclede Power building out of foreclosure for $150,000. It sits at the head of the 11-mile trail, just north of the former site of the President Casino. Trailnet, a cycling and pedestrian advocacy group, had originally planned to relocate its headquarters to the building, but it was sold to a developer sometime in 2005 or 2006, and acquired by Great Southern Bank in 2011 or 2012.
Susan Trautman, Great Rivers' executive director, says it will be up to the public to decide the best use for the 18,000 square-foot building.
"We are really good fiduciary agents for the taxpayers' dollars, and we’ll let the taxpayers help us decide what to do with it and how. And we may look for, and probably will look for, some kind of public/private partnership there," she said. Costs of the rehabilitation will depend on what amenities users want. Some of the funding could come from Proposition P – the parks and trails tax that voters approved in April.
Trautman says the agency purchased the property to ensure that riders, runners and walkers always had access to the trail and could feel safe while doing so.
"This will afford us the opportunity to put in cameras, give a place for our trail rangers who currently work the Riverfront Trail sort of a home base," she said. "It just gives us a lot of opportunity to think through how to make it feel better for everyone when they’re out there on the trail."
Trautman says Great Rivers will also renovate Rootwad Park, which sits across from the building. It was designed by the late sculptor and artist, Bob Cassilly.
Great Rivers Greenway is getting set to add about 40 additional miles of bike lanes in the region, and upgrade an additional 60 miles of existing trails. It's part of their goal to build a ring of trails throughout the metropolitan area.
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann
For background, see: What's the Great Rivers Greenway District?