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St. Louis city agency signs off on deal to buy defunct riverfront garage for park

St. Louis city agency signs off on deal to buy defunct riverfront garage for park

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City, GRG spar over dilpidated parking garage

A St. Louis board and Great Rivers Greenway want to buy this vacant parking garage, photographed on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, at Commercial Alley and Lucas Avenue on the riverfront on Laclede's Landing before it gets put on the market. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — A city development agency will contribute $186,000 to help Great Rivers Greenway, the region’s trail district, buy and demolish a defunct parking garage on Laclede’s Landing.

The contribution from the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority is expected to cover the gap between the appraiser’s estimate of the parking garage’s value and the $1 million the garage owner, St. Louis Parking, says it needs to part with the property.

Great Rivers Greenway wants to turn the site into a park where the public can access the Mississippi River.

The tax-supported trail district is barred from acquiring property above its appraised value, so it turned to other governmental agencies for help.

Earlier this month, it was rebuffed by the St. Louis Port Authority, whose members expressed concern that the city could be saddled with another park that it would be unable to maintain.

On Tuesday, supporters of the trail district, including representatives of businesses on the Landing, came out in force to implore LCRA officials to help Great Rivers Greenway close the deal before another potential buyer, one who would continue to use the prime riverfront property for parking, emerged.

Susan Trautman, director of Great Rivers Greenway, said the district already owns one stretch of land to the north. Lumière Place, the casino and hotel, owns other parcels and has a strong relationship with the district and is committed to the green space project, she said. It already owns a piece to the south, the Katherine Ward Burg Garden, set to open soon.

“It’s the critical piece,” Trautman said of the garage. “We already know we can work with Lumière on the piece to the north.”

Looking to alleviate concerns, she added that Great Rivers is “not going to be looking for city resources to maintain this greenway.”

Brian Marsh, the casino’s general manager, told the board that Lumière’s parent, Caesars Entertainment, is committed to helping develop the park project and sees it helping to catalyze development on the Landing, drawing more customers from around the country.

“We realized this can become a destination property,” Marsh said.

Alderman Jack Coatar, who represents the area, also urged the agency to help with the purchase.

“This is part of our overall strategy at revitalizing Laclede’s Landing,” he said.

Great Rivers will pay for the garage’s demolition.

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