Tying Together Chouteau's Pond
Yesterday morning I drove to work, and tried to figure out some route to enter downtown from the south instead of South Tucker. I admit it wasn't really that congested at 7:30 AM, but I just wanted to try it.
Of course, I ended up going all the way east to South 7th Street, because no other streets between 7th and Tucker (AKA 12th St.) connect through.
Instead, we have gigantic surface parking lots in the area where perhaps there used to be railway switching operations, but not really much to speak of anymore.
For years, city planning and major developers have discussed recreating a prettier, less cholera-infested version of Chouteau's Pond in this vicinity.
Of course, it would be a very different version of the Pond, which originally was formed by a grist mill that dammed Mill Creek near 9th and Poplar (roughly where MetroLink passes under Highway 40 today) and extended as far west as Union Station.
But my thought is a bit different. Why not re-create the streets, at least to a limited extent, through this area? Rather than a linear park / office park alongside the lake, you could have a waterway that coursed under low-water bridges or something of that nature. The thing that's intimidating about development in the entire Mill Creek Valley (other than parking lots which, seemingly, can be put anywhere) is the overbearing presence of the viaducts. But if you re-insert human scale streets, it becomes a bit more inviting. Indeed, east of Tucker that should be more feasible anyway, as there are no major street overpasses. Fourth, Broadway, 6th, and 7th all pass underneath the railway trestles.
The big obstacle is that NestlePurina PetCare has a massive complex in this area with a beautiful courtyard included, a kind of urban oasis, but one that is most definitely a private space. I would not expect that to change.
I know there are probably plans already in the works for this area, because it's only a matter of time before the landowners realize that overpriced surface parking for stadium patrons (and, the rest of the year, discount parking for downtown workers) is not the highest-and-best use for this property.
I just think extending the street grid southward, even if you couldn't reach Chouteau Ave itself, would be a far better fate for South 9th, 10th, and 11th Street than their current pathetic terminii into surface parking lots underneath Highway 40 and its access ramps.