Organizers for the overhaul of the Gateway Arch grounds have raised $178.2 million in private funding, primarily from some of the region’s most prominent corporations and foundations.
Now, for the remaining $72 million needed to fully fund the project, they’re turning to you.
The CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation announced the fundraising totals Friday afternoon during a rally at Ballpark Village. The group is running the effort to raise $250 million to complement nearly $160 million raised through grants and various government sources, and revenue from a sales tax increase in St Louis and St. Louis County.
George Paz, chief executive of Express Scripts Holding Co., and his wife, Melissa, a CityArchRiver board member, are running the campaign to attract the remaining funds. “Melissa and I ask everyone throughout the region to join us in making a personal commitment to this campaign,” he said during a speech.
The largest chunk of money raised during the “private” portion of the fund-raising campaign came via the Taylor family, owners of Enterprise Holdings. Through a match campaign, they raised $73 million, $35 million of which they contributed.
The Emerson Charitable Trust and Monsanto Co. each gave $10 million. In all, more than 30 donors gave at least $1 million. CityArchRiver declined to disclose specific amounts from other donors.
At this point, “we’ve met our expectations,” said Maggie Hales, executive director for the group. “We’re just thrilled with where we are.”
To raise another $72 million, she said, the group will run a public awareness campaign involving advertising efforts and a social media push, as well public events and appearances. The group has set up a website, www.cityarchriver.org/donate, to accept citizen donations.
While fundraising is still ongoing, work on renovation of the Arch grounds already has begun.
The Missouri Department of Transportation opened the new Walnut Street bridge in March, and construction has started on a park that will connect downtown to the Arch over the depressed section of Interstate 44 (formerly Interstate 70).
Great Rivers Greenway, the public trails agency, is working on raising and remodeling of Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard. The National Park Service expects to put the renovation and landscaping of the gardens at the southern end of the Arch out for bid later this month.
The project is on track to be completed in 2016. Hales said CityArchRiver hoped to reach its $250 million target by October 2015. Of that figure, $221 million would go toward construction, and $29 million would seed an endowment to help fund the National Park Service’s maintenance of the improvements.
The public fundraising announcement comes after a hard push last year to raise sales tax to support the project. Last April, voters approved Prop P, a 3/16th-cent sales tax, which would add roughly 2 cents to a $10 purchase, and raise about $780 million over its 20-year life.
Forty percent of the money stays in the city and county to maintain or expand parks. Thirty percent goes to the Great Rivers Greenway district to expand its network of trails in the region. The remaining 30 percent will cover the public portion of the Arch grounds renovation.
In exchange, CityArchRiver promised to raise private funds to complement the public money.
The rally Friday was emceed by sportscaster Joe Buck, who toward the end of the event noted that the exact total, $178,209,980, was $20 short of a more ideal round number. He then singled out a man in Chicago Blackhawks clothing in the back of the audience.
“What I’m gonna do, is present the Blackhawks guy with a dilemma,” Buck said. “Come up here, Blackhawks guy.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s (Blackhawks forward) Marian Hossa,” he joked as the man slowly made his way to the front.
To audience applause, the fan opened his wallet, pulled out $100 and handed it to Buck.
David Hunn of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.