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Monday, December 22, 2008

Drawing the Connections

Robert W. Duffy's article "To connect the Arch to the city (and the river), find the middle" in the Beacon broadcasts the good news from this weekend: a group of concerned citizens forged a coalition to address the issue of reconnecting downtown St. Louis to the Arch grounds and the riverfront, and vice versa.

The meeting and consensus for forward movement potentially could tie together many disparate strands of thinking:
  • Former Senator Jack Danforth's call for improving access to the Arch grounds and making the setting more attractive.
  • The notion of removing I-70 downtown advanced by Rick Bonasch, myself and others, which is enabled by construction of a new Mississippi River Bridge north of downtown.
  • The National Park Service's release of a draft General Management plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
  • The call from open space advocates and preservationists to refocus public discussion from the museum prospect on connecting the Arch grounds to surrounding urban fabric.
  • The outpouring of many good ideas in the recent student charrette on the Arch grounds and riverfront.
  • Mayor Slay's recent attempt to focus planning energy on the St. Louis riverfront.
  • Chivvis Development's efforts to revitalize Chouteau's Landing.
  • Plans by Great Rivers Greenway District to develop a South Rivefront Trail that would connect to the North Riverfront Trail in front of the Arch.
  • Plans for new development at the Bottle District and a second phase of Lumiere Place north of downtown.
  • Ongoing efforts to redevelop the North Riverfront Industrial Historic District north of Lumiere Place.
  • Efforts to improve the East St. Louis riverfront, including construction of an architectural museum.

    Finally, there is the very real prospect that the Obama administration will look for an initial wave of federally-funded public works projects and will push for long-term funding for urban infrastructure projects.

    All of these ideas and plans are in various stages of reality. Most have yet to move beyond talking points and renderings. Isn't the moment ripe to link these plans together through a master vision for the central St. Louis riverfront? The people who came together on Saturday think so, and will spend the next few months trying to link the many ideas for making the city's front entrance a beautiful one.

    Poetry Scores said...

    Yes, this is one of many dispiriting disconnections here. While we're at it, let's drive the city streets with the eyes of visitors and put up consistent signage that shows how to find our attractions and the interstates. St. Louis can really puzzle its visitors!

    Anonymous said...

    I do remember the Arch being somewhat detached from the city, and so finding a way to bring a better connection to the waterfront seems like a good idea. From what I've seen it is useful to activate parks with some sort of retail (cafes/bars) along the edges to bring people in... just my two cents.

    Anonymous said...

    What about the homeless living along the river front and the high crime rate there? We are from Iowa and were on a family vacation passing through St. Louis on Wednesday, and stopped to see the Gateway Arch. Getting downtown was a hassel trying to determine streets being oneway or two, turning lanes, ect. The arch itself was awsome to see inside and out. Coming out after two hours of site seeing we find our car window broken out and several items missing. (During broad daylight between 1pm and 3pm). If nothing is done about things like this why would vacationers want to ever stop? If I had known about the high crime and targeting of out-of-state plated cars in the downtown/riverfront area, we would have never stopped.