Art Museum Expansion Plan Settled Deal Calls for Park Upgrades, Aid to Arena Project

By Dan Mihalopoulos Of The Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Art Museum Expansion Plan Settled Deal Calls for Park Upgrades, Aid to Arena Project


Dan Mihalopoulos Of The Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The St. Louis Art Museum and the city of St. Louis agreed Monday on a deal to allow the Museum to expand on four acres of Forest Park.

For its part, the Museum is expected to pitch in $7 million for improvements in the park and $4 million to encourage the redevelopment of the Arena site, unused since 1994.

"This really is a win-win situation," said Maureen McAvey, the city's development director. "The agreement benefits Forest Park, and it benefits the Arena." City officials continue searching for a developer to handle the Arena project on nearby Oakland Avenue, south of Highway 40. The city at one time planned to sell the Arena site for $11 million to the Forest Park Assistance Corp., a nonprofit organization headed by the Art Museum. In 1994, the city tabbed the group to redevelop the site for park-related purposes. Monday's deal changes that relationship. The park will still have a role in the Arena redevelopment, but the 26-acre site probably will also see other uses - such as an office park or other commercial development. The city will continue to own the site until a developer buys it. The agreement will have a huge impact on the Museum's future, said Lou Hamilton, a consultant for the Museum. Museum officials had threatened to move out of the city if they could not expand. "That was an option nobody wanted to deal with," Hamilton said. "This agreement allows us to preserve the Art Museum's presence in Forest Park, forever." The lease accord allows the Museum to proceed with plans that could take as long as 20 or 30 years - and about $100 million - to complete. Museum officials say they want to bring the current facility up to state building standards that protect against earthquakes. To do that, they will take apart the building on Art Hill, brick by brick. The Museum was built in 1904. While work is done on the existing Museum, the collection will be stored in a new facility constructed on the annexed land. Museum officials previously have said they want to add 100,000 square feet to their existing space. …

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