Forest Park Forever Announces Major Project to Transform Upper Muny Lot Into Multipurpose Festival & Parking Plaza
ST. LOUIS, MO — Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis to restore and sustain Forest Park, has announced preliminary design plans to renovate and enhance the 11-acre parking lot and special event space that sits above The Muny Amphitheater. The plans, in line with the long-term Forest Park Master Plan developed in 1995, will transform what is a much-used but neglected asphalt parking lot into a sustainable, vibrant Festival & Parking Plaza that better meets the needs of the space’s half-million annual users.
“What’s been known as the Upper Muny Lot in Forest Park is centrally located and highly trafficked, yet not up to the standard of what Park visitors want and expect,” said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever. “As a 75-year-old lot, the space suffers from cracked asphalt, potholes and a lack of modern, sustainability-minded features such as thoughtfully chosen trees and landscaping, high-efficiency lighting, and clear pedestrian refuges and walkways. By rebuilding the new Plaza with these features, we will greatly enhance the experience of all visitors. This includes The Muny’s 350,000 annual patrons, the tens of thousands who use the space for festivals and charity runs during more than 30 weekends per year, and the 180,000 visitors who attend The Great Forest Park Balloon Race & Glow and LouFest at the adjacent Central Fields.”
“With the fantastic news that we have received Contribution Tax Credits, Forest Park Forever is able to proceed with this Festival & Parking Plaza project with full force,” said Steve Finerty, Chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors. “We are grateful for our partnership with the St. Louis Development Corporation, who showed meaningful support of the application for these credits. By leveraging nearly $1 million in credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board, Forest Park Forever will in turn be able to secure twice that amount, matching the Plaza project with generous donors in the community. We extend our thanks to the MDFB for the trust it has shown in our record of restoring and sustaining the civic treasure that is Forest Park.”
“We are very pleased that the MDFB awarded State Tax Credits to assist Forest Park Forever in their continued stewardship and fundraising for one of this region’s major assets,” said SLDC Executive Director Otis Williams. “These tax credits assure continued positive momentum of the project.”
The Forest Park Festival & Parking Plaza, estimated to cost approximately $3 million, is part of an overall wave of deliberate, strategic Park improvements led by Forest Park Forever; these include the recently reopened St. Louis Mounted Police Horse Stables — a $900,000 project funded by the organization — and additional projects planned for 2014.
Highlights of this reconstruction and enhancement project will include:
- New trees, plantings and pedestrian refuges
- Smarter pedestrian and vehicular flow
- Water and power access and tent and pavilion anchors for event organizers
- Visitor benches and drinking fountains
- High-efficiency LED lighting for greater safety
- Complete reconstruction of the Plaza’s base and sub-base
- Improved storm water runoff system for greater sustainability
- Clearer, safer parking for 773 cars (same as today)
“We are excited to be moving this important capital project to the design and planning stage,” said Gary D. Bess, City Parks Director. “When it’s complete, the transformation will be dramatic.”
The City of St. Louis’ Board of Public Service and Forest Park Forever are working on these preliminary designs with a team from Horner & Shifrin, DG2 Design, David Mason & Associates and TSi Engineering, having gone through the City’s professional qualification and procurement process. The schedule has been set to eliminate any disruption to The Muny’s performances. Designs will be completed in 2014, with construction taking place from late September 2014 through May 2015, avoiding The Muny season and popular events such as The Great Forest Park Balloon Race & Glow and LouFest. The construction is expected to create the equivalent of approximately 100 full-time jobs, stimulating the state and local economies, one of the goals of the Contribution Tax Credits.
Events That Have Used This Space
- The Easter Concours d'Elegance Car Show (50,000 people)
- Walk Now for Autism Speaks (20,000 people)
- JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes (15,000 people)
- Light the Night Leukemia & Lymphoma Walk (10,000 people)
- March of Dimes Walk (10,000 people)
- St. Louis Microfest Beer Festival (6,000 people)
- The space is also critical to the Great Forest Park Balloon Race & Glow (150,000) and LouFest (31,000), held on adjacent Central Fields
About Forest Park Forever
In 1986, Forest Park Forever, a private, not-for-profit organization, was founded to work in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s great urban public parks for the enjoyment of all — now and forever.
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