Parking was a major concern of many of the design teams in the Arch grounds design competition. For example, from the narrative of the MVVA team’s winning proposal:

Our proposal instead harnesses the power of parking, and spreads it over the entire edge of the site, creating permeable thresholds and activity bridges to the north, south, and west of the Arch grounds.

Every single design team that proposed new parking garages placed a garage underneath Luther Ely Smith Park, the MVVA team included. The parking garage proposed by the MVVA team could have 280 parking spaces on two underground levels. But what if there is the opportunity for something bigger?


City to River would like to replace I-70 and Memorial Drive with an urban boulevard, an idea acknowledged by all five design teams in the Arch grounds design competition. But before I-70 is filled in post-2015, perhaps something can be done with the void the highway created. Something such as a large underground parking garage.

Roughly 2400 feet separate Locust St from Spruce St. If the parking garage is 120 ft wide with 2 parallel rows of parking and the average parking space requires 330 sq-ft, then a parking garage underneath Memorial Drive would have a capacity of about 2,050 spaces on 2 underground levels including the area underneath Luther Ely Smith Park. And by taking over the space occupied by I-70, much of the digging has already been done.

This proposed parking garage would be almost twice as large as the existing garage on the Arch grounds. It would provide convenient parking for not just visitors to the Arch, but for workers, guests, and residents of the buildings along Memorial Drive.

Another reason to build such a large parking garage underneath Memorial Drive would be to diminish the importance of the Stadium East garage. The Stadium East and Stadium West garages have a combined 5,100 spaces on either side of Busch Stadium. They also occupy valuable property in the middle of downtown and bookend the future Ballpark Village site. The Stadium East garage, in particular, with it fantastic potential views into Busch Stadium, should come down and become an extension of Ballpark Village.

Then again, if a new parking garage underneath Memorial Drive does not replace any other parking downtown, then it would simply add to the already gross oversupply of parking that downtown has.

Posted by Herbie Markwort

I like to write about transportation.


  1. Where would the driveways to/from MVVA's proposed underground garage beneath the revamped Luther Ely Smith Park go?Sure, below-grade parking is better than above-grade or at surface, but the driveways still are at surface and cause pedestrian conflicts.

  2. Anon, check out Michigan Avenue in Chicago. No pedestrian conflicts when the ramps are in the median away from the crosswalks. Grant Park has vast parking options underground.Herbie, a lot of people have talked about this, but I think you're the first to propose it in a published form. It's an idea that ought to be extremely popular.

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