By. Chris Stritzel
On April 6th, the Great Rivers Greenway organization unveiled the entries for the Chouteau Greenway project. I have sat and reviewed each one in whole and have chosen the one that would be the best for St. Louis City. While other plans include building a train bridge overlook or a zig-zag river overlook that will look out of place, none of the plans fully address the largest vacant building district in Downtown, Chouteau's Landing. W. Architecture's plan involves building a public park and pond on a large vacant parking lot between 8th and Tucker (4 Block stretch) and laying the groundwork for a Chouteau Landing redevelopment. The plans also make use of wide streets throughout the area, vacant parking lots, oversized highway interchanges and stretches of and underneath the double decker highway system from Downtown to Midtown.
We support this particular plan for a number of reasons...
1. Design: It is doable and will benefit the overall city economy and citizens lives
2. Connections to the Past: The Pond and the Canals near Chestnut Park are an ode to the former Chouteau lake that was on this site.
3. Street diets: Need I say more?
4. Connecting the Northside to Southside and East City (Arch) to West City (Forest Park).
5. Taking current "not valuable" space and making it highly valuable.
Lets take a look at the plan in full detail.
Downtown (From the Riverfront to Tucker).
Imagine it being a sunny, 75 degree day with a slight breeze and there is a Cardinal's game at 3P.M. You come down early via MetroLink and emerge from the half underground, half above ground station. Because the gates haven't opened yet and Ballpark Village is a madhouse, you decide to stroll over to "The Pond" Park and watch people boat around in the pond or enjoy some drinks at the cafes around the pond. It is like an oasis. Then, you walk over three blocks on the trails to Chouteau's Landing for some food before the game and are greeted with buildings that are old and new. It just doesn't feel right.
In a Downtown where all development's and attractions stop at the Interstate 64 highway bridge, a area where people are playing or having a nice stroll exists seamlessly connecting the River to Tucker exists. This area becomes Downtown South's gathering place. The Millennium Park of St. Louis. Meanwhile, Chouteau's Landing has people living and working there in a district far denser than near by Laclede's Landing. Then, pedestrians walk or bike up the Macarthur Bridge to get a view of the City. This is what this proposal by W. Architect's presents for Downtown. A Future where everyone comes together in an area where art, culture and history merge in a fun atmosphere.
Despite what many think, this development in particular would greatly improve real estate on vacant lots nearby and push for major development projects that link Downtown to Chouteau (and maybe even eventually to Soulard). All major streets coming through this area would be given a road diet so that they are easier to cross and get you to where you are going faster than you would normally. Underneath the Interstate, the Chouteau Greenway lies and provides a great area to have a 1.5 Mile stretch of real estate with small cafe's and pocket parks. Most notably, Chouteau Park, near the Arch grounds, provides a connection of the Arch to the Greenway and Chouteau's Landing to the Arch. Its like a large intersection but better.
The remainder of the area under the highway would be Turpin's Porch. Elsewhere, the Gateway mall would receive improvements, they become more prevalent West of Tucker.
- Promotes Redevelopment of the largest cluster of abandoned buildings in Downtown
- Creates a unique park, pond and under-highway commons areas
- Increases property values
- Hard to get to from Cupples District
- "Turpin's Porch" needs to be evaluated as more than just a trail and art walk, make it more than that
Tucker to Jefferson
West of Tucker, the "Turpin's Porch" continues but the vibe changes a lot. The Gateway Mall is improved greatly and modernized, especially in front of Union Station at Aloe Plaza. The signature fountain will remain but the park around it will be modernized. At the current site of the failed MLS Stadium, failed Paul McKee development and current 22nd street interchange, Chestnut Park will rise featuring small canals to showcase how the area used to look while providing more recreation areas for visitors and residents. It also provides an opportunity to build mid to low rise buildings with apartments in them that over look the new Park and Union Station as well as downtown in general.
Chestnut Park also connects to the Gateway Mall providing a seamless loop for biking and walking. All in all, this is as great way to end the downtown portion of the Chouteau Greenway.
- Allows the removal of the 22nd Street Interchange, site of the failed Interstate 755 project and many others.
- Promotes new residential development
- Allows for neighborhood vacant lots to built on and property values to shoot up
- Union Station is a large anchor here.
- MODOT Owns the property. will they be willing to sell?
- Clark is still NOT connected to the Clark West of the Interchange
- Another Park?
Midtown (Jefferson to Vandeventer)
This area is fairly interesting as it removes the major Interstate highway and Exit ramps (for the most part) and opens up areas where shops, office and residential can thrive in an area known as the HUB. At Ewing Street, a new MetroLink Station along the trail would rise even though it borders Metro's maintenance facility for MetroLink. It would be a pivotal connection in the redevelopment of the area. Several redevelopment projects could take place because of this. As the Chouteau Greenway continues to move West, Prospect Yards comes into play. With the City Foundry, Armory and near by Cortex come together, the Trail has the opportunity to link them all as a pivotal piece in Midtown's pivotal redevelopment.
Several bridges and connectors come together to form St. Louis' version of New York's Highline. It also links the City Foundry to the Armory and promote development on the remaining lots and abandoned building in the Prospect Yards neighborhood.
- Greatly reduces pedestrians travel time form Midtown to Downtown via Market and Forest Park
- Allows redevelopment projects to take place that bring density with them
- Increases TOD Chances
Vandeventer to Skinker
After the City Foundry, the focus takes center stage on Cortex by building a small under highway park like the one in Downtown and by promoting a Clayton Avenue Innovation Park. There will also be festival grounds as well as the potential for infill development. The "beeline" which started in downtown and followed the highway will continue to Kingshighway then Forest Park. Along Forest Park Avenue, a wider median will support the trail. That will continue all the way down to downtown and to other spurs of the Chouteau Greenway that head North and South.
Once in Central West End, all trails lead onto three bridges over Kingshighway and end at Steinberg rink, the last big meeting place along the Chouteau Greenway route. Once in Forest Park, pedestrians can make their way over to Lindell and continue on the Chouteau Greenway to Skinker and up to the Delmar Loop. Along the way, potential redevelopment opportunities are available with the number one possibility being residential.
- Gives roads diets
- All comes together in the end
- Makes Central West end's sidewalk experience stronger
- Three bridges over Kingshighway
- Could lead to more traffic in an already overly congested area where NIMBYs are prevalent.
Overall, the Chouteau Greenway plan presented by W. Architect's is ambitious but doable. It doesn't over do anything. The fact that the trail will connect to other parts of the city besides the central strip is a big plus. But the biggest question and worry that I have is whether or not the Greenway will be built as proposed. The document states, "While the art installations and festivals are ongoing, planning can start on the initial project. Our initial take on Phase 1, pending conversations with the community and GRG, is to design and build the Valley hydrologic areas (pond and wetlands) and the Valley Beeline from Poplar Street bridge Park to Chestnut Park. We also propose to complete the Spring Avenue Connector, at least over the highway to connect the City Foundry with the Armory".
It seems possible that this will happen but I still have my doubts. What needs to happen is that developers along the Greenway route should come together and contribute money to the project and a developer should come in and propose a redevelopment plan for Chouteau's Landing. Once all boxes are checked off, construction should begin. Once completed, we could see a City drastically change for the better and erase decades of neglect.
See all of the other proposals for the Chouteau Greenway on Great Rivers Greenway website by clicking the button below. You can also vote for your favorite!