A boutique hotel, a research center, and maybe even an indoor rainforest are among the additions envisioned when the St. Louis Zoo expands south of I-64/US-40.
Zoo officials will present a plan for the southern campus today. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the plan is considered a guiding "framework" for the 14 acre site of the shuttered Forest Park Hospital, and for the zoo's future.
The expansion would also allow the zoo to expand animal exhibits on its current grounds. That could included a bigger children's zoo area and added features like a subarctic habitat. A gondola high over the interstate could link the two campuses.
The paper reports that design and construction would be broken into multiple stages, stretching over the next 20 to 30 years.
The plan is to break the expansion into several specific projects, with money-raising campaigns for each.
St. Louisans had a chance to review the framework of the expansion plans the Saint Louis Zoo is developing for the old Forest Park Hospital complex. Zoo officials unveiled some initial ideas for the 13 1/2 acre area across Interstate 64, south of the Zoo at an open house Wednesday evening.
Zoo President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Bonner explains what will be the first order of business once ground is broken. "We see immediate activity. We're going to go in and start renovating that seven story parking garage as quickly as we can. We'll do demolition for the main part of the hospital building as quickly as we can." Bonner went on to say, "The real planning starts now, when we take all of this wonderful input and then develop a strategic plan, what we're going to do for the next five, six or seven years."
Dr. Bonner says they are open and listening to many suggestions regarding the development. "I can see a commercial presence," he said. "I can see not doing it too, but I think it would be more welcoming place if there were certain services that we could provide for our visitors and, for that matter, neighbors and other people nearby."
The start date for renovations has not been determined.