Frequently Asked Questions

What is CityArchRiver?

The CityArchRiver project is a public-private partnership building connections that enhance downtown St. Louis, the Gateway Arch grounds, and the Mississippi riverfront. The partnership includes the National Park Service, Missouri Department of Transportation, Great Rivers Greenway District, City of St. Louis, Bi-State Development Agency, CityArchRiver Foundation and others.

Construction work is underway on many of the project components including the Park Over the Highway, Central Riverfront, downtown road and sidewalk improvements, and more.

The CityArchRiver project began as the international design competition called Framing a Modern Masterpiece: The City + The Arch + The River, which was funded by private donations. The competition called for plans to enhance the Arch experience for everyone by making it easier and safer to access and connecting, invigorating and expanding the park grounds, museum, and neighboring public spaces. The competition commenced in December 2009, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates was announced as the winning team on September 21, 2010. Now that construction has started on the project, all partners remain hard at work finalizing project details and ensuring the fulfillment of the project’s Design Goals.

The CityArchRiver Foundation is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization coordinating the partners who are working to implement the transformational winning design.

Why CityArchRiver?

The Gateway Arch is a global icon and symbol of the St. Louis region, yet is cut off from the city by a busy road and highway. The project is an opportunity to integrate the Gateway Arch into the fabric of the region, make it easier for visitors to safely access the monument, and enjoy the space surrounding it.

By uniting our region and one of the world’s most recognizable icons with another of our greatest assets – the Mississippi River, CityArchRiver will build new accessible connections, invigorate existing attractions, and expand points of interest beyond the existing park.

CityArchRiver will also provide an immense economic impact for the St. Louis region, bringing $367 million and 4,400 permanent jobs to the region as well as 530 construction jobs to the region throughout the project.

How did the Design Contest come about?

The planning process for CityArchRiver began with the General Management Plan (GMP) for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which started in early 2008 and included an extensive public involvement and outreach program. The GMP called for a design competition, akin to the 1947 competition held for the initial development of the site.

The competition commenced in December 2009 and involved eight public open houses; hundreds of citizen comments; and a 20-agency technical advisory committee. An independent jury determined the winning design, which was submitted by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

The CityArchRiver Design Competition had 10 goals:

  1. Create an iconic place for the international icon, the Gateway Arch.
  2. Catalyze increased vitality in the St. Louis region.
  3. Honor the character defining elements of the National Historic Landmark.
  4. Weave connections and transitions from the City and the Arch grounds to the River.
  5. Mitigate the impact of transportation systems.
  6. Embrace the Mississippi River and the east bank in Illinois as an integral part of National Park.
  7. Reinvigorate the mission to tell the story of St. Louis as the gateway to national expansion.
  8. Create attractors to promote extended visitation to the Arch, the City and the River.
  9. Develop a sustainable future.
  10. Enhance the visitor experience and create a welcoming and accessible environment.

What is the Gateway Arch?

The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM), a 91-acre national park that also includes the Museum of Westward Expansion, the Old Courthouse and Luther Ely Smith Square. The Memorial was established in 1935 to honor Thomas Jefferson and the pioneers of the westward expansion of the United States. It is owned and maintained by the National Park Service. 

Truly a modern marvel, the Gateway Arch is one of the world’s greatest architectural icons, on a level with the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Wall of China and the Statue of Liberty. It captures our regional and national aspirations for dreams and discovery. Nearly 50 years after its completion, the Arch stands as one of the most visited attractions in the world and continues to be a destination for tourists around the globe who wish to experience the brilliance of its design and engineering.

Who visits the Arch?  

Between two to three and a half million people visit the Gateway Arch every year, including from outside of the United States. 75 percent of visitors to the Arch are non-local, from more than 100 miles away, and about 3 percent are international visitors.

How will the various aspects of the project be linked? 

The entire project has been designed as one seamless visitor experience. Kiener Plaza will serve as a welcoming gathering place that links the Gateway Mall to the Old Courthouse to the Arch. With the Park Over the Highway, visitors will be able to walk from the Old Courthouse at Fourth Street to the Arch and to the river through a continuous green space without a stair step or intersection in their way. The East Slopes will be accessible connections to the riverfront. The North Gateway Park will connect the grounds to surrounding neighborhoods. A uniform wayfinding and signage strategy will help connect all the areas and remind visitors about all the various components, from Kiener Plaza on the west to the riverfront.

Project components include:

1. Luther Ely Smith Square
2. Old Courthouse and Exhibits
3. Museum Entry
4. Museum Expansion & Exhibits
5. North Gateway Park & Pathways
6. Reflecting Ponds Landscapes & Pathways
7. Park Circulation Loop & Greenway Connections
8. Processional Walks & Allees
9. East Slopes Accessible Paths
10. Kiener Plaza
11. Central Riverfront Project – Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd.
12. Transportation Improvements and the Park Over the Highway

Click here for more information.

Will any portion of the project involve East St. Louis?

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Amendments Act (1992) authorized approximately 100 acres in East St. Louis, Illinois, for inclusion within JNEM. As of yet, no land has been acquired by the Department of the Interior and the exact configuration of the boundary of this addition has yet to be determined. Right now there is no plan or timeline for the Illinois portion of the project. It is something that CityArchRiver Foundation and partners will revisit once the portion currently under construction is complete..

Will there be any changes to downtown parking facilities in light of the project?

Work to remove the Arch Parking Garage on the north side of the park began in December 2014 to make way for the North Gateway, which adds 7.5 acres of green space to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The parking garage had 1,200 spots.

The City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office, which has oversight of parking in the City of St. Louis, has formed a Parking Task Force that includes CityArchRiver Foundation, the Convention and Visitors Commission, Bi-State/Metro, and parking operators.

A study showed that there is excess capacity in many downtown parking lots and garages even during peak business hours and Cardinal baseball games. The excess parking throughout downtown St. Louis has more than enough spots to absorb parking from the current parking garage at the Arch.

The Convention and Visitors Commission unveiled a new parking plan in October 2014 that improves the parking experience throughout the downtown area. Preferred garages with payment options, security, uniform signage and wayfinding make parking safe, affordable and convenient for Arch visitors. Visit www.GetAroundSTL.com for more information.

How will safety and security be addressed in the revised Arch grounds?

Lighting, visibility and security are a significant parts of the CityArchRiver design. These features provide added safety from a physical and psychological perspective. Improved lighting and added security cameras will provide a safer environment in the project area. In addition, increased visitor traffic and activity will enhance safety.

ABOUT PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND STAKEHOLDERS

What stakeholders are involved other than the project’s key partners? 

In addition to the partnership and a public engagement program that included eight public meetings, with participation by more than 2000 people, there are four standing committees that support the CityArchRiver initiative:

  • Technical Advisory Group (Consists of 20 local, state, and federal agencies)
  • Universal Design Group (Represents individuals with disabilities)
  • Design Review Team (Includes cultural and historic resources)
  • Citizen Advisory Committee (Comprised of regional citizens)

These committees represent a wide-range of local, state, and federal agencies and organizations, as well as diverse citizen perspectives from throughout the region. All parties involved share an incredible determination to bring increased vitality to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the riverfront, St. Louis, and the region.

In addition, the CityArchRiver Foundation and its partners will continue to hold an annual Report to the Community each year.

What is the role of the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC)? 

The CAC, a representative group of citizens with diverse perspectives, provides input and advice for several areas – programming, enhancing the visitor experience and ensuring the long-term conservation and preservation of all CityArchRiver projects. The CAC’s feedback informs the design consultants, the National Park Service and the other partners associated with the project.

Does the CityArchRiver project take into account other improvements occurring in and around the Downtown St. Louis area?

All efforts are being shared and coordinated through project partners and the various committees. For example, project partners are working with Ballpark Village, the St. Louis Cardinals, the MX District and Laclede’s Landing to ensure that CityArchRiver is part of a cohesive vision for the downtown area.

ABOUT PROJECT FUNDING

The $380 million project will be funded through a mix of private and public funding sources.$159 million in public funding is committed and the CityArchRiver Foundation’s goal is to raise $250 million in private gifts and grants to fund the capital costs of the project and seed an endowment. In April 2014, the CityArchRiver Foundation launched its public fundraising campaign, announcing it had raised $178 million of the $250 million goal. Click here for more information.

How did the passing of Proposition P impact project funding?  

On April 2, 2013, voters in St. Louis County and St. Louis City approved Proposition P: The Safe and Accessible Arch and Public Parks initiative. Revenue from Proposition P will fund improvements to Great Rivers Greenway’s trail system, city and county parks, and approximately $90 million will be bonded for accessibility, safety, improvements and maintenance for the Gateway Arch grounds public infrastructure.

Funding generated from Proposition P for improvements to the Arch grounds and surrounding areas are administered by the Great Rivers Greenway District.

ABOUT PROJECT PROGRAMMING

How will the project continue to be funded in years to come?  

Funding for the long term health and vitality of the project area will come from a variety of sources including Proposition P revenue, private donations and earned income. CityArchRiver Foundation, as part of its overall fundraising, campaign will dedicate some of the funds raised to seed an endowment for programming, education, and ongoing maintenance of the improvements to the CityArchRiver project area.

What is the plan for future events on the grounds? 

The National Park Service, CityArchRiver Foundation, and Great Rivers Greenway are establishing a business plan to help determine possibilities for events and activities on the Arch grounds and surrounding areas. Part of the task of the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) is to provide input on the types of events and programming the public might desire along and adjacent to the new Arch grounds. This might include music events, festivals, cultural activities, health and educational programming and more.

Will festivals like Fair St. Louis be disrupted?

Keeping the Arch grounds open during construction is a very important priority for CityArchRiver and its partners. While Fair St. Louis has been relocated during construction, events will return to the Arch grounds. In the future, events will be held at a safer, more accessible, and expanded Arch grounds when the CityArchRiver project is complete.

What aspects of the revitalized Arch grounds will encourage visitors to remain on the grounds for a longer period of time? 

The new welcoming and accessible environment, museum expansion and exhibits, activated riverfront, the North Gateway park, and other project components are all designed to encourage visitors to spend more time on the Arch grounds.

I have heard that there is a project to clean stains off the outer layer of the Arch. Is that part of CityArchRiver?

The project to remove staining from the surface of the Arch is handled by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the National Park Service and is not part of the CityArchRiver project. Click here for more information.

ABOUT PROJECT TIMELINE

When did construction begin and what is the timeline for completion?

CityArchRiver project partners broke ground in August 2013 of Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) improvements associated with the Park over the Highway. In November 2013 Great Rivers Greenway broke grown on the southern portion of the Central Riverfront component.

Most project components will be under construction by the end of 2014. And many components, including the grounds and riverfront, will be completed in 2016. The new museum and visitor center will open in 2017.

How will access to the Arch be maintained during construction? 

The goal is to keep the Arch open throughout construction. Partners have collaborated on a plan to ensure access is maintained and that the park remains open for visitors. Updated construction changes and pedestrian and motorist wayfinding maps are being published online and in print to help visitors get to the Arch from downtown and interstates. The pedestrian maps are also available at most downtown hotel concierges.

Click here for more information.