Ever taken the train from Clayton or Shrewsbury or Brentwood to downtown St. Louis? Ever taken the MetroLink to Saint Louis University? If you have ever taken the train to Downtown St. Louis or beyond or chosend MetroLink to arrive at St. Louis University, you have seen the Grand MetroLink Station.
The station, which sits below grade below the new Grand Bridge, has some challenges to be politically correct. If you exit the train at the Grand Station, you may wonder where have a I landed - surrounded by industrial use warehouses with no site lines to SLU or any of the other developments on Grand. However, what is one of the more interesting things is that this station is literally blocks from SLU Medical Center, the St. Louis University campus and one of our most beloved cultural areas in St. Louis - Grand Center.
Citizens for Modern Transit was excited to commission a study to look at just that - how do we better meld the Grand MetroLink Station and the surroundi g areas back into the vibrant community that surrounds it. Bold ideas from a local panel of experts is exactly what we hoped for and what we received.
Chouteau’s Greenway, a high speed rail hub at the Grand MetroLink Station and/or a platform development were all game changing ideas presented by the local Urban Land Institute (ULI) Panel of experts as transformative measures for the area around the Grand MetroLink Station as a part of a study.
CMT engaged the Urban Land Institute St. Louis Chapter to do a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) for the Grand MetroLink Station. The TAP, composed of local experts on land use, policy, and development, spent two days analyzing opportunities for the station, interviewing stakeholders, and developing a possible plan to move short and long term development forward. TOD education and advocacy is a key goal for CMT this year.
According to the panel, “Transformative change cannot occur in incremental steps here. It needs a bold vision…something to transform the site.”
At a special presentation to the community on Nov. 13, the panel outlined possible transformative measures that could change the entire area around the station. Chouteau’s Greenway as an idea has been around for years. The panel suggested that any plans at Grand must keep these plans in mind as well as push for the fruition of the Choteau’s Greenway concept. The opportunity to work with MSD on this project should be considered. The panel also floated the idea of a high speed rail hub at the Grand MetroLink Station. With space for ample parking and a station with wide platforms, it could be the perfect location to link multiple modes of transportation according to the panel.
The final bold idea generated was to move from focusing on the station which sits below grade to building above the station – a platform development at street level. Some of the merits of this type of develoopment included:
- Ability to place parking on first 2-3 stories, easily fitting below bridge
- Ability to place commercial, retail and/or residential on top of parking, level with the bridge platform – building a development at the same grade as Grand Ave.
- Ability to embraces light rail and bus connectivity with better access at both levels
- Allows for a better connection between SLU campuses
- Finally, enhances travel along Grand and encourages pedestrian use.
Considering that the area around the Grand Station is considered one of the more challenging stations however one with probably the a higher upside potential, CMT directed the panel to look at both short and long term options for the area.
In the near term, the panel suggested improvements to pedestrian experience at the station level and on Grand Ave as well as north and south of the new Grand Bridge.
As with the UMSL South Station TAP, the panel suggested a ‘master’ developer for the area. This time the panel suggested using Chapter 353 – the “Urban Redevelopment Corporation Law” – to land bank, relocate, and clean up the parcels around the station. Boundaries suggested included Grand Center 353 (north); CORTEX 353 (west); Chouteau Ave (south); and Compton Ave (east).
Whether there is a transformative measure that changes the game at the Grand MetroLink Station or short term measure such as improved pedestrian access, signage and landscaping to increase ridership, there is a significant opportunity for improvement at this station. St. Louis has a chance to "rethink" of what the communities around transit can look like, and the Grand Station provides a great chance to do just that. CMT will continue to focus on this station area with a new Missouri Foundation for Health grant to look at form based zoning overlays for the area around the station.
For more information on the GRAND TAP PRESENTATION, please visit www.cmt-stl.org.