Great cities are exciting amalgams of old and new. And the new works even better when it draws its inspiration from the old.
So it is with the Bottle District — an idea originally inspired by the whimsy of the landmark giant Vess soda bottle that can be seen from I-70 just north of Downtown.
When Dan McGuire of the McGuire Moving and Storage family first came to see me about his idea for a new Downtown amusement district in early 2001, it was hard to know whether or not the idea was viable. Thanks to Dan’s hard work and, more recently, to the interest of Clayco Construction’s Bob Clark, I now believe that it is.
On September 27, I plan to be standing just north of America’s Center and the Jones Dome to help Dan and Bob break ground for the project.
The Bottle District is important for a number of reasons.
- First, the complex will add some exciting things to Downtown that it doesn’t have. Rawlings, a St. Louis company, will open one of its sports-themed Rawlings All American Grilles. There will also be a Cabo Wabo Cantina and an indoor European-style F-1 kart track (with “green” cars that run on Laclede’s natural gas). And there are some discussions going on with Joe Edwards to open a downtown venue of his popular Pin-Up Bowl.
- Second, this development — especially its phases adding offices and residences will extend downtown’s new excitement to the north side of the convention center, where little development has occurred of late. The success of the Bottle District, and the Pinnacle gaming development to the east, will set the stage for other successes in this pioneering area.
- Third, the innovation of the development concept and his love for St. Louis and its architecture have attracted world-famous architect Daniel Liebskind, who almost immediately accepted the commission when Bob Clark flew to New York with it. Mr. Liebskind’s designs are — simply put — eye-popping additions to Downtown’s skyline. Mr. Liebskind and his wife came to visit with me earlier this year, and what impressed me most was his affection for St. Louis. He and his wife spent their honeymoon here, specifically so they could see the Gateway Arch.
The private investment in this skyline-changing project will exceed $225 million.
I plan to be in the first kart.