Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Challenge to St. Louis

St. Louis is famous for cool traditions but also for our resistance to change. Soon we will be asked to overcome that resistance and pull together as a community to carry out a transformation of our downtown's riverfront area.

We are in the midst of an historic design competition. The work of world class design teams will soon build a vision to transform our downtown, the Arch grounds, and riverfront. The results offer the potential to be the crowning achievement of more that 25 years of downtown revitalization. The elusive dream of a riverfront and Arch grounds which are connected to downtown and active with people is on the brink of coming true.

It has taken a lot of work to get us here. Civic leaders pushed for years to make this happen. They convinced the National Park Service and the City of St. Louis to sponsor an international design competition to reinvigorate the Arch grounds. That competition has drawn the brightest talent from around the world to focus on our downtown, riverfront and the Arch - and the too long neglected east bank of the river. Soon the five teams will be releasing their plans to the public and the jury will be tasked with making the decision to select the winning design.

Then the challenge will be on St. Louis and the region to follow through to make it happen. It will take all of us working together as a region to raise the money and will to get this done. St. Louis is famous for completing plans that are never carried out. We can't let that happen this time.

This time we need to follow through on the hard work that got us here to make the dream a reality for the future of St. Louis. Everyone has to be in the boat and pulling in the same direction. We need to ask ourselves, our neighbors, and our community organizations what we are willing to do to make it happen?

The program to transform the Arch grounds and riverfront is an opportunity to bring the St. Louis region together in many new partnerships. These are exciting times and we are on the brink of doing something very special. This project has the potential to not only transform the built environment and experience of the downtown and east bank area but ultimately to make us better people as well.

4 comments:

Mark Groth said...

"What are you willing to do to make it happen?"

What are the needs? And what is the timing?

Rick Bonasch said...

Hi Mark,

Timing wise, the goal of the design competition is to have the work completed by October 2015. That gives us about five years.

Technicality wise, the difficulties will be in getting all the necessary approvals to carry out the winning design.

Cost wise, we are talking funding in the range of $300 million plus. That works out to about $120 for every man, woman and child in the St. Louis region.

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a way for everyone to get involved to help raise this money?

STLgasm said...

St. Louis owes it present-day identity to the Arch. To get it built was bold and ballsy, and no doubt controversial. While I lament the loss of our historic riverfront district, the Arch makes the statement that St. Louis CAN achieve, that we ARE still a world contender. Now 45 years later, can we still prove to ourselves and to the world that we still have the guts to be a world contender? Anything less than the removal of I-70 as part of the Archgrounds overhaul would be a sorry waste, and downright civic ineptitude at a pivotal time in our history.

Anonymous said...

Civic ineptitude is the region's longest running tradition and in fact getting stronger with time. Financially the region supports subsidies for wealthy institutions with higher sales taxes which will further destroy the the public's pocketbook. World contender? Laughable, have you ever tried to book an international flight from Lambert?