Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Losing a Pointless Plaza, Gaining Another Garage

There has been a lot of discussion in urbanist circles recently about the new parking garage that will soon be sprouting up adjacent to the U.S. Bank Building at 7th and Locust. The garage will be built on the site of the pointless “urban plaza” that took the place of the beautiful and stately Ambassador Building.

The general sentiment surrounding the new garage seems to be negative, which is justifiable. However, while a parking garage would not be my first choice of uses for that site, I contend that it’s not the end of the world. The good news:

-Thompson Coburn is not only staying downtown, it’s staying in the U.S. Bank Building. This will help keep the “musical chairs” game to a minimum.

-The garage will make the U.S. Bank Building and other nearby office buildings such as One Financial Plaza, the Railway Exchange and any future redevelopment of St. Louis Centre more marketable to prospective tenants.

-The garage will hopefully make the surface parking lot at the southwest corner of 7th and Locust more attractive for redevelopment, either for office or residential use.

-Ground floor retail will be included in the design, which will add some life to a fairly dead stretch of Locust.

It’s time to come to terms with the fact that we are getting another garage downtown and push for a smart, attractive design – something more along the lines of the Century garage. And at the same time, the line on construction of new garages needs to be drawn here, with an emphasis placed on attracting businesses and redeveloping problem properties and surface lots to add density. It’s critical that the gaping wound of downtown that is St. Louis Centre be redeveloped and new tenants brought in to occupy the office space in the Railway Exchange that has been vacated by Macy’s.


JMedwick said...

I am less concerned over the garage in this location because of the positives you mention.

What I find saddening is that it did not open up the opportunity to either add office space connected to the US Bank building on top of the new garage or improve the facade of the Washington garage to make it more attractive/ add a ground floor shop or restaurant.

Michael R. Allen said...

Another postential positive aspect: build the garage so that office floors can someday be built above. Someday, that will become a very smart decision -- if it gets made.