Seeking What’s Good With NorthSide: Envisioned 22nd Street Interchange Reasserts Street Grid

{an image from NorthSide depicting a reconfigured 22nd Street interchange at I-64}

There are varied opinions on Paul McKee’s vision for North St. Louis and both developer and community have much to wrangle about, including the upcoming make-or-break TIF hearing. Without endorsing every component of the potential development, there are things to like about McKee’s vision.

The 22nd Street interchange has been an unceremonious dead end for Downtown West for decades. When I-64 was completed along the south side of downtown St. Louis the interchange was constructed in anticipation of an expressway running north roughly following 22nd Street through North St. Louis. Needless to say, this expressway was never built and we have been stuck with the obtrusive interchange ever since.

The new interchange would be one of four job centers as a part of NorthSide. Some have questioned why McKee needs to have land this far south of the majority of his holdings, but I feel that an effective and attractive entrance to North St. Louis is essential to NorthSide’s success. And not only would the west end of the Gateway Mall and underperforming Union Station gain greater context and vitality, the vision includes reasserting the street grid from I-64 to north of Delmar Avenue, eliminating the superblock bordered by Jefferson, Cass and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Granted, this area needs to be reconfigured regardless of the NorthSide project, but it is one part of the proposed development that makes good sense to me and would benefit not only the area north of Cass Avenue, but Downtown West, the budding Locust business district, western Washington Avenue and more. Let’s hope this is one idea that is acted upon sooner than later.

{the 22nd Street interchange as currently configured}

{image from NorthSide depicting new 22nd Street interchange looking north}