A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

All aboard new MetroLink station in Central West End?

1:27 pm on Wed, 05.16.12

The proposed new station is in red, between Sarah and Boyle. Existing stations are Central West End, to the west, and Grand (currently under construction) to the east.
The proposed new station is in red, between Sarah and Boyle. Existing stations are Central West End, to the west, and Grand (currently under construction) to the east.

The area between the Central West End and Grand Center, home to St. Louis’ burgeoning life sciences research district, sports several sparkling new and rehabbed buildings, but it also has aging, industrial buildings — many of them vacant — and streets that are far from pedestrian-friendly.

A group of participants look over documents at the meeting.
Photos by Kathie Sutin | For the Beacon
A group of participants look over documents at the meeting.

Dennis Lower painted a picture Tuesday night of a vibrant neighborhood, an internationally recognized bioscience hub with a 24/7 vibe, restaurants, shops, walkable streets and potential for new housing development.

All that’s need to spur the vision to reality, he said, is a new MetroLink station.

Lower, president and CEO of CORTEX, a not-for-profit partnership created to promote biotech development, made his pitch for a new station at a community meeting at the CORTEX building on Forest Park Ave. The station, which would be built between the Central West End station and the Grand Center station, could be a “double entrance” station with access from Boyle and Sarah.

Some 60 people — mostly residents who live to the north and south of the
district — attended the meeting and shared their own ideas.

Cortex entrance on Olive
Cortex entrance on Olive

Lower has good reason to push for a new station. CORTEX, an acronym for Center of Research Technology and Entrepreneurial Expertise, is expanding, increasing its lab and office space from 400,000 to 800,000 square feet.

“Our vision for CORTEX is to create a knowledge community that includes the neighborhoods and the area that surrounds CORTEX,” Lower said. And, that includes “amenities not only in the Central West End but reaching down to the Botanical Garden and into Forest Park and Grand Center, trying to weave together a larger area and connect to all of those neighborhood amenities,” Lower said.

A new MetroLink station could increase walkability and spark transit-oriented
development, backers of the initiative said. The station would also make getting to the new jobs that will come as the research park grows easier. About 1,100 tech workers are already there.

“That’s important for me when I try to market internationally because in Europe in particular public transportation is much more embraced than it is in the United States,” Lower said.

John Hoal presents at the meeting
John Hoal presents at the meeting.

The team held 15 community meetings over the last three months, with area residents saying they want more walkable streets, said John Hoal, principle of H3 Studio, which is doing the study.

The Forest Park Southeast neighborhood, bounded by Chouteau, Arco, Boyle and Taylor, is perceived as “very unsafe” for pedestrians and bicyclists, Hoal said.

If a new station is built, planners would make nearby streets more walkable, add bike paths and bike facilities, improve streetscapes, install security lighting and a monitoring system, add a blue light safety call system and increase safety patrols over safety concerns.

Complicating the drive for a walkable community are MoDOT’s plan to add an interchange for Interstate 64 at Boyle and a round-about on Tower Grove. Neither are pedestrian-friendly, several participants said.

Lower said drawing a circle with a quarter-mile radius from MetroLink stations shows “clusters” of economic activity. There are clusters at Washington University and the Loop area, he said, and others around downtown, Grand Center and the Central West End, he added.

“We’re trying to put a circle in the middle between the two (Grand Center and CWE stations) that would create a third cluster of stops,” Lower said. His comments echo those made by transit expert Katherine Perez who, on a visit to St. Louis last week, said that planners should focus on cluster development around existing stations.

A new station should generate new riders, not take them away from the existing Central West End station, Hoal said. Preliminary results indicate 600-700 new riders are projected at opening with 1,250 to 1,350 new riders projected in 2030, he said.

There are three ways to improve ridership numbers, Hoal said. “Improve connectivity to the station, increase development in and around the station and adjust management operations.” He added: “It’s a really a combination of all of those,” with more housing the fastest way to increase ridership near the station.

The meeting was part of a six-month study to determine the feasibility of a station within the research park. A preliminary plan would put the station on Boyle adjacent to the CORTEX building on a strip of greenery planners have dubbed “CORTEX Commons.” The commons area would be the “front door to the station,” Hoal said.

The plan is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant with additional funding from the St. Louis Development Corp., CORTEX and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Hoal said he didn't know how much a station would cost. “We don’t have dollar amounts,” he said. “Funding is a very complicated issue.” That would be part of a full-blown Federal Transit Administration study if it is decided to build the new station.

That decision would be made by the city, Metro and the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, Hoal said. The study team will present a report to St. Louis Development Corp. in mid-June.

Jason Kenney, who works in the CORTEX building and often bikes to work from south St. Louis, was cautious about the plan.

“It would be convenient for me, of course, because I work here,” he said. “But one of the concerns I would have is is it worth the investment. My tendency is to think that it is, but there’s always reason to question that.

He likes some ideas, like a facility for bike storage and showers for riders, but he said he doesn’t know how “realistic” they are.

Barbara Murray, who lives in the Central West End and says she rides Metro “to everything” complimented Lower on his presentation. “I love your vision and I support it,” she said. “I really hope this comes together.”

1 Comment

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

More About The Beacon Home