A new 'Mississippi Mile' - actually 1.2 miles - would stretch from Chouteau Ave. to Laclede's Landing Blvd. -- a fitting tribute to St. Louis' founding fathers Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau. The area for consideration contains the soon-to-be-developed Chouteau's Landing at the south edge, a rejuvenated Laclede's Landing to the north, and the riverfront itself.
Okay, where did we leave off?
In Part One, I discussed the area of our riverfront directly south of the Archgrounds -- Chouteau's Landing. This is an area that is unique in that it has a strong presence of existing, historical structures, while also offering plenty of space for the district to grow. Ideas have been bandied about for the past 5-10 years, with the Chouteau's Landing Art Center at Powell Square as the centerpiece and a move toward apartment/condo redevelopment in many of its industrial buildings. In Part Two, Laclede's Landing was discussed. The question there is a tough one -- how do you preserve the history of our city's oldest district while also adding density by way of new development? Click over to those stories and share your thoughts.
It's time now to tackle the most important question: How do we re-engage the river itself, and make it active and viable to the north, south and all points in between
It's an encouraging first step to see that the riverfront has received a lot of coverage lately.
- First was the City+Arch+River redesign competition, which awarded the $300 million project to Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. We are now a mere week away from seeing what MVVA has in store for us, but early design concepts are discouraging - with a cobblestone riverwalk closed to public transportation.
- In November, the now-defunct Admiral riverboat was put up on auction with the disclaimer that the vessel will need to be removed. This article from the Post-Dispatch hints toward a potential buyer, but no announcements have been made public.
- Finally, the riverfront has received some press due to illegal drag racing, joyriding and "ghost riding" -- an idiotic pastime that involves getting out of a still moving car and riding its roof. Stupid? Immeasurably so. But hey! - these kids (?) are at least using the riverfront (Kidding...).
These are the questions facing St. Louisans and the designers at MVVA. To sum up my answer to all these questions, I say, resoundingly "Yes!"
Logic would dictate we start off with the area of our riverfront directly in front of the Archgrounds. It's the main section, the one people come to to take pictures, board the tour boats and attend the big festivals. However, I think the most important piece of the downtown riverfront is further north...mainly, the proposed Laclede Power Center.
Here on the Near North Riverfront is a diamond-in-the-rough park (complete with Cassilly sculptures), a trailhead to the St. Louis Riverfront Trail and an historic building to anchor it. The building itself was originally going to house Trailnet's new offices - a move that would have solidified the area as a destination for bicyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, Trailnet has announced a move to the Farm & Home Loan building at 10th and Locust where the new Downtown Bike Center will be developed, but that shouldn't stop the work they've already done to revitalize the Laclede Power Center.