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Columbus Square North St. Louis

Bottled District

by Michael R. Allen

What is the fabled Bottle District going to look like?

This?

Or this?

Will the towers shrink, the architecture get more conservative and the tenant list atrophy? Probably. While the site is excellent for very tall buildings, it is extremely disconnected from areas of residential and commercial density. While the plans hint that it will be a drive-in, self-contained world, it is being billed as a great entertainment district. Unfortunately, it would need for the demolition of I-70 and Trans World Dome to be a walkable complement to other areas of downtown activity. It’s not likely to attract vibrant street life or many interesting stores and restaurants; the tenant list so far could easily be confused for the Union Station renovation tenant list, with barbecue restaurants, go-karts and other things that attract auto-bound visitors.

As a place to live, it could do very well, though. But the designs need to be progressive. I was not a huge fan of Libeskind’s plans, which were rather derivative of his other work, but I admired the flair and the notion that the site should be a visual focal point. The newer renderings show rather commonplace buildings, better suited for the high-rise-choked Chicago Gold Coast than the skyline of St. Louis.

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