Saturday's Post-Dispatch featured an article on Trailnet's plans to renovate the long-vacant Laclede Power building near Laclede's Landing on the north riverfront.
According to the article, extensive structural and cleanup work has already been completed inside the building, and a small park overlooking the Mississippi has been constructed adjacent to it.
When the $16 million redevelopment is complete, the building will house a restaurant and offices for Trailnet and other businesses/organizations, and serve as the trailhead for the St. Louis riverfront bike trail. Plans include a bike shop with bike rentals, lockers, showers and other amenities for cyclists using the trail.
Trailnet hopes to have the project completed by August 2010.
Of course, as with any article on downtown development, the Post-Dispatch has to include a quote from a naysayer - in this case it's Jeffrey Hawley of Block Hawley Commercial Real Estate Services in Chesterfield.
St. Louis Centre, for example, which opened with great fanfare in 1985, is now shuttered. And Union Station, also remodeled with great hype, continues to struggle.I don't see how this project is at all comparable to St. Louis Centre, Union Station, the Bottle District or Ballpark Village in size, scale, scope or intent. It's an apples to oranges comparison.
Meanwhile, more recent initiatives such as the Bottle District and Ballpark Village are not dead, but they have been delayed and still aren't off the ground.
"People have been trying to do something there for a long time," Hawley said. "You've got to grow it over years. You don't just go in, plant a seed and the next day find a million people living downtown."
While it does have some issues - most notably accessibility - the bike trail is already a popular attraction, and this development will serve the thousands of visitors who already come to the area to use it, while potentially giving the trail a higher profile and increasing ridership. Despite its location, many people have still found a way to get there.
This development will be a great first step toward connecting Laclede's Landing with the north riverfront area and the North Broadway corridor. Had Pinnacle not torn down a few historic structures in the area recently, that connection would be a little easier to make.