New Surface Parking Lot Proposal along Gateway Mall Could be Big Test for Sustainable Downtown

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1010 Market - St. LouisDoes St. Louis care about becoming a walkable, vibrant city? It has the requisite 260-page encyclopedia of sustainability, sometimes referred to by its misnomer, “plan”. The first goal under the section “Infrastructure, Facilities & Transportation”: “Facilitate Affordable, Efficient, Convenient, Accessible, Safe, and Healthy Transport of People and Goods”. A fair reading of that for most St. Louisans would be lots of cheap parking at the front door of every business and building.

And although we lack any kind of comprehensive parking survey downtown, a cursory look reveals the negative impact parking structures and lots have on the experience of walking the city. And more parking continues to be added. St. Louis Centre, now the MX, was largely converted to a parking garage. The city built a new parking garage near City Hall. The owner of Cupples 7 predicts it will become surface parking and demolition for parking was sought for the five-story historic building at 1105 Olive Street. That building is now in the hands of Craig Heller and is slated for redevelopment.

Now comes a proposal to replace a pedestrian plaza of trees and benches with 26 surface parking spaces and a new building entry. 1010 is being marketed at $15.50 – $18.00 psf, full service for Class A office space. The building totals 345,750 square feet and marketing materials are offering up to 73,110 square feet spanning the top four floors. 1010 Market was built in 1981 and is comprised of 20 floors rising to 295 feet.

1010 Market - St. Louis
{proposed surface parking lot at 1010 Market shown in red}

Brown & James PC, a law firm of 84 attorneys according to a 2012 St. Louis Business Journal article, vacated 50,000 square feet at 1010 last year. The firm moved into 54,000 square feet at Bank of American Plaza at 800 Market citing the need for additional space. Their lease there is estimated to be $22.00 psf.

The particularly glaring problem here is that this lot would face Market Street and the Gateway Mall. This is supposed to be the premier vista in our city, our central spine, our Champs Elysees. The city and private interests have spent millions designing, redesigning and master planning this space. City Garden, about 100 feet away, is a $40M investment in this public space. While new surface parking belongs nowhere downtown, shouldn’t this be especially true lining the Gateway Mall? The 260-page sustainability “plan” is worthless if proposals such as this are allowed to propagate. Perhaps a new idiom: Actions speak louder than sustainability plans”, is needed.

1010 Market - St. Louis
{streetview of existing plaza at 1010 Market}

1010 Market - St. Louis
{rendering of proposed 26-space parking lot}

1010 Market - St. Louis
{site plan for parking lot}

According to marketing materials, the property does not have dedicated parking spaces, though there are 89 parking spaces in the adjacent media building (home to KSDK-TV) leased through 2081. Also noted is additional parking available in “large public garages within the immediate vicinity.” There is, of course, also on-street parking.

This is currently a proposal put forth on marketing materials alone and it does not appear that it has been presented to the City of St. Louis. If and when it is, the city should clearly reject the intrusion of surface parking on the Gateway Mall and downtown. The other option would be to stop piling up sustainability documents and pretending to plan for a better, more dense, more vibrant downtown. It’s a small lot, but could prove to be a big test.

1010 Market Brochure – Surface Parking Lot Proposal by

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  • John

    With all of the new residential development downtown (Roberts Tower, Arcade Building, etc.) I wouldn’t mind seeing this turned into a residential building. I bet it has some of the best views in the city. It might also be nice to jazz it up a bit like what SLU does to many of its buildings. I love the blue lights they put around the roofs of their buildings and Roberts Tower’s sign is eye-catching. Something along those lines would be great for this. Oh, and as far as the parking spaces are concerned…Nah. F that.

  • kuan

    Market is a very auto-centric “stroad.” As such, it alone severely detracts from cultivating an urban environment. That said, it is clear that City Garden has gone far towards combatting this, and is particularly successful when viewed from Market Street facing north. Unfortunately, doing the inverse reveals its weakness. Rather, it reveals the weakness of the present street wall to the south of Market. None of those buildings are particularly successful at cultivating urbanity. The local television station’s office, I remember, feature particularly poor frontage and pedestrian amenities.

    While the parking lot proposed would do little to create a worse situation (parking lot would feature some “push” elements that would bring foliage, etc. up towards the street wall thus making such a small parking lot a wash, potentially), design aspects to better tie in the front entranceway with sidewalk are a no-brainer.

    What the parking reveals, rather, is the presence of either a particularly anemic (sp?) retail market or a failure by the developers to fully capitalize on their assets. For example, if we were to look at the Prudential Center redevelopment by Boston Properties over the past two decades, we can see that they used extensive low level build-outs at ground level to achieve improved street presence on what was, effectively, an auto-centric high-density development. Such efforts actually increase not only revenue (new retail space provided substantial cash flow increases), but also improved rents achieved in the above offices as the perception and prestige of the property was subsequently lifted through such quality groundscape interventions.

    • “Unfortunately, doing the inverse reveals its weakness. Rather, it reveals the weakness of the present street wall to the south of Market. None of those buildings are particularly successful at cultivating urbanity.”

      Right you are. The City wanted to make Market Street downtown’s signature street (along with the waaay too lengthy Gateway Mall), but failed spectacularly. Instead of creating an active, dense street wall, it opted instead to focus on single-use blocks, set back and uninviting. The civic structures, in particular, are distinctively bland and, dare I say, ugly.

      You nailed it. The view across CityGarden varies severely depending on the direction you’re walking. For me, personally, when I return home via the Amtrak or Megabus, the walk east on Market is tiring and uninspiring. Most times, I make a bee line for Olive/Locust and head east from there.

  • I worked in 1010 for 5 years.

    Ripping out the plaza for 26 surface parking spaces is laughable. 26 doesn’t even cover the parking needs of 1/4 of a floor office at 1010.
    Most of the building used Ballpark East & West parking garages, or takes the Metrolink (many IL residents commute in that way, very few MO workers do).

    The plaza itself isn’t the greatest—elevated from the street, and no visual incentive for anybody coming off the street to hike up the stairs to access it—but it does have nice mature trees that do give good summer shade—to the building’s smokers.

    If the developers feel the need for more parking, there’s a mess of badly-utilized land going from the southeast part of the building along Walnut Street and 9th. The only thing that stupid 9th Street path park thingy is good for is giving the urban wind tunnels a flat track to race across in the winter, or the summer sun a good 1 block to work a pedestrian over.

  • MattH

    That is actually one of the nicer parks/open spaces downtown. It is always cool in the summer because of the shade. I would rather see other lots developed before this one, but it is true that more development is needed along Market, not parks and definitely not parking lots. This would be a travesty.

  • dani

    I hate the abandoned lot/ park thats there now. this isn’t good but the lot isn’t either.

  • Imran

    They could threaten to move jobs to Maryville if not allowed this atrocity

  • Ben

    Other than protest are there any mechanisms to stop this?

  • ab

    I think what downtown needs is a comprehensive free ‘validated’ downtown shuttle system. Where a few designated parking lots serve all major downtown venues such as the arch where there is a continuous (on-call) shuttle available for “direct service” to those designated venues such as the arch.

  • Presbyterian

    I can’t see how this would ever fly.

  • Hasan

    I would hope they can come up with a better idea than this. They just have to get more creative. Those 20+ spaces won’t accommodate a company who wants to bring 100 employees to the building. Companies want greater parking ratios than this building can support. So my advice: back to the drawing board.

    And if anyone knows these guys, tell them they’re making a mistake.

  • John R

    It looks like they are seeking to incorporate a new building entrance and canopy in conjunction with the parking. I think it would be nice instead to build out to the sidewalk a two-three story space that could serve as a great restaurant with views of the City Garden and Old Courthouse/Arch. That is one of the most disappointing things about Market…. the failure of buildings to take advantage of one of the planet’s most iconic urban viewsheds. Hilton did a good retrofit though…. we need more.

  • T-Leb

    I would love to work downtown, one giant reason would be so I didn’t have to drive my car…