New bike and pedestrian paths are designed to help north St. Louis neighborhoods
A $245 million investment into dedicated bike and pedestrian paths in the heart of St. Louis is coming into greater focus.
The Brickline Greenway would connect Forest Park to the new soccer stadium and Midtown to Fairground Park. There are plans to eventually add connections to Tower Grove Park, the Gateway Arch grounds and other parts of the city.
Construction will be done in phases, with the route along North Grand and part of Spring Street completed by the end of 2025, said T. Christopher Peoples, equity and economic impact director for Great Rivers Greenway, the organization leading the project.
That part of the project received a $15 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration, he added.
“That $15 million is the best leverage we have,” Peoples said. “That money has to be spent, it’s already been given to us.”
He expects the section between the Grand MetroLink station and the soccer stadium will be constructed concurrently, with the rest lagging by six to eight months. The overall goal is to have it completed by the end of the decade, Peoples said.
The vision for a greenway along St. Louis’ central corridor has been around for decades, but the idea of connecting it with communities in north St. Louis is more recent.
The plan to extend the greenway north came after developers of the project directly asked residents what they wanted to see come from it, Peoples said.
“This is the opportunity to do something substantial that shows that the region is ready to take a hard look at north city and understand it’s an important and critical part of the city that needs to be invested in,” he said.
Depending on the part of the city it’s in, the greenway can be just bike and pedestrian paths separate from vehicle traffic or plazas and areas for business or other developments, Peoples said. Its overall look and feel is driven in large part by the community members in the neighborhoods it traverses, he added.
“We can’t think that this greenway is just going to be one uniform infrastructure project going through these neighborhoods,” Peoples said. “Each neighborhood has its own identity, and each neighborhood wants to see certain things come from the greenway.”
Residents closer to Fairground Park are keen on having a business district, reminiscent of North Grand in the 1960s and '70s, he said. Closer to Grand Center a premium was placed on incorporating art and open space into the design, he said.
Along the whole route, Peoples has been tasked with ensuring the investment fundamentally supports the longtime residents and businesses of the neighborhoods it traverses.
“Making sure the residents that live in that community are welcome to stay and are an integral part of that community,” he said, “promoting existing businesses, helping them grow and also bringing in diverse new businesses that will be beneficial to the community.”
It’s a responsibility Peoples takes personally having grown up in north St. Louis. He adds it also aligns with the city’s plan to reverse the historic harm done to the majority Black and brown neighborhoods.
Already the project is spurring developments near its route and outside investments. Near Fairground Park, Tabernacle Community Development Corporation will rehabilitate five existing single-family homes and build 13 new ones. Tabernacle is being assisted by the St. Louis Development Corporation and U.S. Bank on the project.
“That’s the type of development that we want to see and the type of thing we wanted the brickline to encourage: the additional development of housing and amenities in and around the Fairgrounds Park neighborhood,” said William Carson, who works for U.S. Bank’s community development corporation and leads its new markets tax credit business in the southeastern U.S.
The pathways provided by the greenway signal public support for outside investment into developments along it, he explained. Carson added his organization sees them as likely to succeed in the long term.
“When communities are asking and looking for services that are missing, that you have community buy-in, that you have an overall plan that’s not just one development,” he said.
The project won’t be completed for several years, Peoples said. Immediate next steps include Great Rivers Greenway opening a satellite office in north St. Louis, he added, “so that people in the community, when they have questions, concerns related to the development and how it’s moving forward, have direct access to us,” Peoples said.
Eric Schmid covers economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.