The Gateway Arch is an iconic symbol of St. Louis. For over 50 years it has been symbolic of Western Expansion, the opening of a gateway to the rest of America. It’s one of the most visited landmarks in the world—visitors from all over the globe seek out the Arch for its steely magnificence that looms over the Mississippi and the entirety of the city. St. Louis just wouldn’t be St. Louis without the Arch, and it’s currently getting a makeover. The CityArchRiver project is completely transforming the grounds surrounding the Arch—which will mean nothing but amazing things for STL as a whole.
Revitalizing The Arch & The City
The CityArchRiver project is striving to accomplish something that will no doubt revitalize this historic landmark and the city completely. The Park Over the Highway is creating a new park that extends over I-44 between Chestnut and Market Streets to physically connect the Arch grounds with the Old Courthouse. This initiative allows visitors to easily and conveniently walk from the Old Courthouse to the Arch to the riverfront for the first time in 50 years.
If that weren’t exciting enough for downtown STL, this project is creating five miles of new pedestrian pathways and connecting bike trails, 11 acres of parkland, children’s play areas, new event and performance areas, and a completely reinvigorated riverfront. The plans include elevating the Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard to reduce flooding by 60%, to increase access to the Grand Staircase and to overall make it easier and more convenient for visitors to get to the riverfront and Laclede’s Landing, either by foot, bike or car.
Eventually, Kiener Plaza will be redeveloped to become a central hub for the people of St. Louis, joining together the Gateway Mall, the Arch Grounds and downtown STL. Essentially, everything will be within walking distance of the city’s best, most inviting attractions.
What It Means
Attendance to the Arch has been steadily declining over the years, so these plans will no doubt have an immense economic impact on STL. Those behind the project estimate that:
“If out-of-town visitors spend just a half a day longer in the region and the number of visitors to Arch returns to average levels before 2006, the economic impact would be the equivalent of a second Cardinals baseball season or more than four NCAA Men’s Final Four Tournaments”
This means an estimated increase of $367 million in revenue for the city, 4,400 permanent jobs and a new era of growth and flourishing for the St. Louis region. It means a reinvigorated downtown, an improved local economy and a return to national prominence.
Ever since the project broke ground in 2013, huge developments have been underway. The CityArchRiver Foundation reached its $250 million capital campaign goal this year, redevelopment of Kiener Plaza began in February, and many components of the projects will be expected to be finished before the end of the year. If everything stays on track, we can expect the CityArchRiver project to be completely finished by 2017—a truly remarkable feat that means remarkable things for the future of St. Louis.