Two important and high-profile projects a new mixed-use development outside Busch Stadium and a citywide wireless internet network moved forward today. One project, an extension of a lease between the City and BJC, remained stalled.
The Board of Estimate approved the Ballpark Village proposal. A short while later, a special session of the Board of Aldermen gave Ballpark Village and the municipal wi-fi proposal first round approval.
I am excited that BPV and wi-fi are this much closer to being elements of our City’s continuing renaissance, and I am not yet ready to pronounce the BJC lease dead.
Extending the BJC lease and altering its terms have drawn plenty of opposition but also lots of support. A great many people have written me or told me that they support the extension of this lease.
I respect the arguments on both sides of the issue, but I find the supporters’ arguments more compelling.
If the lease is unchanged, most of the site will remain under BJC’s control for another 40 or so years. BJC will continue to pay only a token rent for the property.
If we eventually agree to do this, the City will have $3.8 million per year for the maintenance of Forest Park. We will also free up $1.2 million to fix up other City parks, and $400,000 for youth recreation programs. As part of the agreement, BJC would agree to spend $1 million moving the amenities from Hudlin Park including a new playground, improved tennis courts and handball courts. The City would agree to invest an additional $1.6 million to create new green space and new parks in nearby neighborhoods.
The Forest Park Advisory Committee, Forest Park Forever, and the Board of Aldermen are already supporters.
BJC and Washington University are the central elements of the City’s focus on life sciences and technology. BJC is the City’s largest employer. I do not believe at the end of the day that E&A will opt to take their scientific impact and City presence for granted.
I score today as two very good bounces and a temporary bump.