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Major Renovation to Transform Upper Muny Lot
Proposed Forest Park Festival & Parking Plaza rendering by H3 Studio
Major Renovation to Transform Upper Muny Lot
Much-used but neglected asphalt Upper Muny Parking lot. Photo courtesy Forest Park Forever

$3 Million Major Renovation Planned for Upper Muny Lot
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, December 18, 2013 - Forest Park Forever has announced preliminary design plans to renovate and enhance the 11-acre parking lot and special event space that sits above The Muny Amphitheater.

The plans, in line with the long-term Forest Park Master Plan developed in 1995, will transform what is a much-used but neglected asphalt parking lot into a sustainable, vibrant Festival & Parking Plaza that better meets the needs of the space's half-million annual users. "What's been known as the Upper Muny Lot in Forest Park is centrally located and highly trafficked, yet not up to the standard of what Park visitors want and expect," said Lesley S. Hoffarth, P.E., President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever.

"As a 75-year-old lot, the space suffers from cracked asphalt, potholes and a lack of modern, sustainability-minded features such as thoughtfully chosen trees and landscaping, high-efficiency lighting, and clear pedestrian refuges and walkways. By rebuilding the new Plaza with these features, we will greatly enhance the experience of all visitors. This includes The Muny's 350,000 annual patrons, the tens of thousands who use the space for festivals and charity runs during more than 30 weekends per year, and the 180,000 visitors who attend The Great Forest Park Balloon Race & Glow and LouFest at the adjacent Central Fields."

The Forest Park Festival & Parking Plaza, estimated to cost approximately $3 million, is part of an overall wave of deliberate, strategic Park improvements led by Forest Park Forever; these include the recently reopened St. Louis Mounted Police Horse Stables - a $900,000 project funded by the organization - and additional projects planned for 2014.

Highlights of this reconstruction and enhancement project will include:

  • New trees, plantings and pedestrian refuges
  • Smarter pedestrian and vehicular flow
  • Water and power access and tent and pavilion anchors for event organizers
  • Visitor benches and drinking fountains
  • High-efficiency LED lighting for greater safety
  • Complete reconstruction of the Plaza's base and sub-base
  • Improved storm water runoff system for greater sustainability
  • Clearer, safer parking for 773 cars (same as today)
"We are excited to be moving this important capital project to the design and planning stage," said Gary D. Bess, City Parks Director. "When it's complete, the transformation will be dramatic."

The City's Board of Public Service and Forest Park Forever are working on these preliminary designs with a team from Horner & Shifrin, DG2 Design, David Mason & Associates and TSi Engineering, having gone through the City's professional qualification and procurement process.

The schedule has been set to eliminate any disruption to The Muny's performances. Designs will be completed in 2014, with construction taking place from late September 2014 through May 2015, avoiding The Muny season and popular events such as The Great Forest Park Balloon Race & Glow and LouFest. The construction is expected to create the equivalent of approximately 100 full-time jobs, stimulating the state and local economies, one of the goals of the Contribution Tax Credits.

Nathan Frank Bandstand at Pagoda Island in front of The Muny
The Nathan Frank Bandstand on Pagoda Island, in front of The Muny, was built in a classic Renaissance design with white marble columns, bronze railings and ornaments.

The Muny began in 1916 in Forest Park with a tribute to William Shakespeare. As You Like It, produced by Shakespearean actress Margaret Walsh Anglin featured over 200 St. Louisians playing a variety of roles on a gently sloping hill.

In 1917, concrete was poured for the production of Aida by Guy Golterman of the St. Louis Grand Opera Committee. The success of that event prompted St. Louis Mayor Henry Kiel to formally establish the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis in 1919.

From the beginning, The Muny set aside 1,456 free seats at the back of the theatre in order for the shows to be affordable to all. During its history, The Muny has produced and presented grand operas, concerts, operettas and ballet troupes.

The Muny is located on Theatre Drive, just north of the Jewel Box. In front of the entrance to The Muny, patrons and visitors to the park can enjoy the serene beauty of The Pagoda which is surrounded by water.

In 1998, The Muny completed the renovation of the stage area and backstage area as part of it Capital Improvement Campaign. Over $3 million was spent on new concession stands and doubling the number of womens bathrooms. In 2000, nearly 12,000 seats were replaced at the outdoor amphitheatre and the parking lots were resurfaced. A plaza was added east of the entrance. The area surrounding the Pagoda and the entrance was landscaped with plants, antique lights, sidewalks and bridges featuring decorative columns.

The tradition of The Muny continues with Broadway musicals from mid-June through mid-August in Forest Park.

For more information, call 314-361-1900.

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