A park stretching north from the Arch? Public input sought on proposed plans
With the Gateway Arch grounds renovations nearing completion, the Great Rivers Greenway District is gearing up for another big project. The district and the city of St. Louis presented initial plans to revitalize the north riverfront Wednesday night at a public meeting.
The basic idea is for Great Rivers Greenway to spur investment in the area by creating a continuous waterfront park along the Mississippi from Laclede’s Landing north to the Stan Musial Bridge.
“We feel like we can create a great waterfront park that would support residential life, create vibrant businesses and give people the opportunity to thrive on the riverfront,” said Susan Trautman, executive director of Great Rivers Greenway.
One version of the plan includes the proposed football stadium.
“We’re flexible,” said Trautman. “We have a plan with the stadium and without the stadium. Either way the waterfront park and development is there.”
The plan includes various outdoor spaces for music festivals and open-air markets as well as beer gardens and eateries. Renderings also include a skate park, an interactive play fountain and a fitness lawn.
The space is divided into four conceptual areas going north up the riverfront, with each area focused on a different theme. The first two make use of existing attractions: Laclede’s Landing and Lumiere Place. The last two zones are billed as places for creativity and innovation.
The goal is create an inviting space where people will want to live and businesses will want to locate.
“We think it’s an important asset that would draw a lot more visitors to the area,” said Rob Orr, a project manager for the St. Louis Development Corporation, the city’s economic development arm. “And the riverfront park that is being proposed kind of ties the whole north riverfront in with the Arch grounds and gives people the opportunity to extend their Arch visit and go into Laclede Landing and patronize the businesses there or go into Lumiere Place.”
The public meeting at the Central Library downtown was well attended, and those there expressed a variety of concerns. One man was wondering about the environmental impact. A woman was worried about eminent domain. And members of the Osage Nation wanted to see how the land that once held burial mounds will be treated.
“I think we need to be very much involved (in the plans) because of the mounds. Those are very sacred to us,” said Kathryn Red Corn of the tribal council.
Plans for the waterfront park are still in the initial stages. Trautman said it will be at least a year before there’s even talk of a groundbreaking.
“I hesitate to give a date. We have a lot of work to do but I certainly want to make sure it happens,” said Trautman, adding that it takes time to hear from all stakeholders and make sure they are included.
Great Rivers Greenway and the city of St. Louis hired Forum Studios to study the north riverfront and develop the plan.
According to Trautman, Great Rivers Greenway paid Forum $250,000 and the city paid $82,000.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.