In this morning’s daily newspaper, you’ll read about a plan proposed by the City and the Gateway Foundation to build a unique public space on the Gateway Mall, in a 2.9 acre area bounded by 8th and 10th and Market and Chestnut Streets.
Here are some more details.
The “urban garden” will feature plantings selected in consultation with, and maintained by, the Missouri Botanical Garden; fountains and other water features; artistic lighting; eating; and 20-25 pieces of sculpture by internationally renowned artists. There may be some sort of outdoor dining area. There will not be fences or gates, and the garden will be open to everyone.
The proposal will cost at least $20 million — financed entirely by the not for profit Gateway Foundation.
The art will be world-class and broadly appealing at the same time. Although people inevitably have different opinions about public art, this garden will be designed to offer something to everyone. And the landscaping, lighting, and water features will add to the universal appeal. (And if we end up arguing a little about the art, how bad would that be? It would be a pleasant change from the sorts of things we usually argue about.)
The plan is to break ground next Spring and be finished in time for the All-Star Game in 2009.
Planning director Rollin Stanley likes the plan and believes it will be the cornerstone of the wider development of the Gateway Mall. Aldermanic president Lewis Reed and alderwoman Lyda Krewson (whose ward includes Forest Park) will co-sponsor enabling legislation along with Downtown alderwoman Phyllis Young. The bill calls for a 15-year agreement, which can be renewed in 10-year increments thereafter. Under the terms of this agreement, the City will continue to own and control the property on which the garden will be built. The Foundation will fund the entire cost of designing and building the garden, as well as the cost of ongoing maintenance, insurance, and any additional security. The City’s only expenses will be for utilities and mowing the grass.
I am enormously thankful to the Gateway Foundation for their generosity. This spectacular addition to Downtown is one of the largest and most exciting gifts this City has received in many years. You’ll hear a lot more about the plans today and over the next few months.