By. Chris Stritzel
The ever changing plans of Centene's corporate Campus in Clayton continue to change with a new pedestrian bridge connecting a parking garage to a parking garage. The Subdistrict 1 (SD1) parking garage will have residential units surrounding it but the Subdistrict 2 (SD2) garage will not. The reason for the new pedestrian bridge is as follows according to architect HOK, "The pedestrian bridge linking the new Centene Subdistrict 1 vehicle garage and with the new Centene Subdistrict 2A is a creative response to an important functional and safety-enhancing element.
To enhance the connectivity of the Centene campus and provide an integrated safe crossing over Lyle Ave for Centene employees, the bridge provides a weather protected enclosure connecting level 3 of each garage. A secure vestibule at each of the garage entrances to the bridge allows a controlled cross-campus link for employees between the SD1 office tower and civic auditorium functions. This connection will benefit Centene employees moving between SD1 and SD2 buildings while enhancing safety by reducing Centene pedestrian traffic at the Lyle intersection. Since only Centene employees will use this bridge, all other parkers will ultimately exit each garage to the Forsyth or Carondelet sidewalks as they move further east and west activating the urban realm".
To me, this sounds like an excuse to put less pedestrians on the ground. What I really don't get here is the quote, "safety-enhancing element". Lyle isn't that busy of a street so the fact that this quote is being used as a reason is more of an excuse than a definite reason. For Centene to spend upwards of nearly $800 Million on a new "urban" campus, it sure sucks to keep your employees off of the street and in a protected environment. However, I do understand that as a corporate campus, Centene wants to keep all of their buildings interconnected somehow. It's for simplicity. That means that we could potentially see a bridge connecting Subdistrict 2 to Subdistrict 3
The pedestrian bridge will connect floor 3 in each garage and will be controlled access. This prevents the wandering public from infiltrating the corporate campus building without a registered employee. The design of the bridge is also "meh". It doesn't have glass on it and is a simple concrete and steel design. This makes sense as it doesn't cross a busy street but it is just depressing to look at. There will also be a slant in the design and that is to accommodate the change in height between the floors of the SD1 and SD2 garage. While the bridge is a disappointment, it doesn't bug me much at all. What I like about the Centene project is the fact that Forsyth will become significantly more urban.
There will be street level retail spaces, an auditorium and a new street wall from Carondelet to Hanley. That's a drastic improvement what is currently there (the old Wellbridge building). The entire SD1 and SD2A development should be finished by the Fall of 2019 which by then, SD2B or SD3 should be under construction in someway. SD2B includes a 15 floor residential tower on Carondelet and SD3 includes a new skyscraper, potentially reaching 500ft, at Forsyth and Carondelet. a hotel will be part of that. Both of those phases could include surprises not yet known yet, but we'll keep you updated.