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Old January 29th, 2008, 05:30 AM   #1
hkskyline
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St. Louis Seeks to Reinvent Green Spaces

St. Louis seeks to transform green space with skating rink, tree houses
28 January 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The city of St. Louis wants to reinvent more than a mile of parks and green space downtown, with ideas that include everything from tree houses designed by renowned architects to the creation of an urban ice skating rink.

City officials are hoping that private organizations will sponsor projects for the Gateway Mall, a stretch of land downtown known for its views of the Gateway Arch.

While there's no time frame or cost estimate for the entire project, backers are quick to point out it's also not pie-in-the-sky: an organization called the Gateway Foundation has pledged about $25 million for a new urban sculpture garden on two blocks of land, just east of the city's civil courts building. They plan for the sculpture garden to open next year.

"We are on the move. We are beginning the process of making this happen," Mayor Francis Slay said Monday at a downtown news conference.

The city's planning director, Rollin Stanley, said the space under consideration is the size of 49 football fields. Less than half of that is park land and it's not continuous, broken up by downtown buildings and streets.

The mall begins at Kiener Plaza, a few blocks west of the Mississippi riverfront and the 630-foot Arch monument. A plan calls for the creation of five distinct areas called "rooms" that continue to Aloe Plaza, a park across from the Union Station shopping mall.

One, called a neighborhood room, would create a new recreation space, aimed mainly at the roughly 10,000 downtown residents. Stanley talked about a play area for children that might include a tree house village, where famed architects could be asked to design a house.

At Aloe Plaza, one idea is to create a lake around Carl Milles' Meeting of the Waters fountain, made up of elaborate bronze sculptural pieces. The lake could offer a place to eat lunch, or skate in the winter.

Other ideas include a new dog run or an urban hallway, a path with innovative lighting features that would link all of the green spaces together and give people a place to go for a walk or run.

The plan Stanley presented came from Thomas Balsley Associates of New York and Urban Strategies Inc. of Toronto, he said. The Gateway Foundation paid for the plan.

Michelle Swatek, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Architects, applauded the Gateway Foundation for its work to create the sculpture garden. She had not seen Monday's proposal for the Gateway Mall, but said the chapter had concerns with previous plans presented in recent years. "We had been hoping for bolder ideas, better space definition, intimates spaces, exciting edges and integration of technology," she said.

Many with her organization had hoped for an interactive feature downtown using technology in a creative way to tell visitors about other attractions and features in the region, she said.

In a separate project, a foundation headed by former Sen. John Danforth issued a report last year to obtain part of the Arch grounds from the federal government to better link the riverfront to the city's downtown. The two areas are split by a busy interstate. That effort, however, would require an act of Congress.
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Old January 29th, 2008, 08:32 AM   #2
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It is weird hot someone would even think of rebuilding the Gateway Mall. Someone from builtstlouis.com said that the Gateway Mall was a waste of space. He also said it was located on the former sites of certain historical buildings. And one 1980s office highrise sits on that space.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 12:46 AM   #3
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Is nobody even answering the above question? This is an important matter in the City of St. Louis.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 04:55 AM   #4
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^Sorry, I didn't know there was a question posed.

Sure, I'm all for creating pedestrian-friendly projects in the Gateway Mall, such as a sculpture garden. Anything that brings more life to the area. In it's current state, it just doesn't beckon people to stroll through.

But Gateway Mall is a pretty good size chunk of downtown real estate. It covers ten city blocks, for pete's sake! Such a vast expanse of prime land, and oh so under-utilized.

Regarding that "single office building" --Gateway One-- which sits right in the middle of it all: Kind of ruins the view, doesn't it? Wasn't the original intention in creating the Gateway Mall to preserve this strip as green space with a perfect view of the arch? Well, that idea was well-intended, but ultimately it failed miserably. So scrap the original idea already! I think it's time for some changes. No, make that some BIG changes.

First, Gateway Mall, as a "green area" concept, can and should still exist. But it needs to be condensed into just a COUPLE of well-planned, well-designed, people-friendly parks. We don't need 10 continuous blocks of green space downtown (minus Gateway One). It's ludicrous to allow this much valuable land to sit idle.

The major portion of this strip of land should be sold to developers. Our CBD looks too small too represent a metro area of this size. Downtown St Louis needs more density. It has too much empty space and desperately needs some new high-rise buildings. More buildings = more workers and more residents = more pedestrian traffic. This is what St Louis needs. Large park-like areas are important to any city, but they don't belong in the CBD. A thriving downtown area should be bustling with street life, not occupied by vast empty spaces.

I also it's about time (no,waaaay past time) to retire "Twain", better known as the Serra sculpture. This large rusting monolith has occupied an ENTIRE city block of Gateway Mall for decades. For God's sake, why?! Is there a logical reason? Personally, I think it's hideous. And I'll tell you this: Most St Louisans don't care for it either. (Go ahead, take a poll and prove me wrong.) If this site HAS to be used to display sculpture, I'd rather see various pieces placed there on a rotating basis, than have to stare at the same one endlessly.

Sorry for the rant, but I've been wanting to vent about that for some time.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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Anyone got pictures of the area? I want to visualize the article.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 10:31 PM   #6
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This sounds like an interesting green space idea
that should help spruce up St. Louis.
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