BEVO MILL – Gravois Avenue around the Bevo Mill is getting ready to look sharp, as it puts on its “Bow Tie,” spreads some “Bevo LOVE” and prepares for a makeover that could take decades.
“It’s a 20- or 30-year project, but it all starts tonight,” Douglas Farr told Bevo Mill area residents at a meeting Tuesday night at Oasis International, 5035 Gravois. “It gets our total thumbs-up.”
Farr, of Farr Associates, is part of a group of consultants who have spent the last several months studying ways to improve Gravois between Chippewa Street and Christy Avenue. In Tuesday’s closing public meeting of the process, he spent much of his time talking about the primary street corner of the strip, at Gravois and Morgan Ford Road.
The intersection is in the shape of a bow tie, so Farr called it the “Bow Tie” and said the area should promote that name.
The Bevo Mill, on the northern part of the Bow Tie, not long ago switched from a full-service restaurant to a venue for weddings and other events. Although the Bevo Mill is a legendary landmark, Farr said that was a good reason why the area should develop other notable landmarks as well.
It’s all part of a lengthy plan available online at bevogreatstreets.com. It outlines numerous potential changes for things such as lighting, curbs and store windows and gives a timeline for local groups to make them.
One of those landmarks Farr discussed was a set of four huge letters, spelling out “L-O-V-E,” in Sebilj Park, facing the Bevo Mill. To demonstrate the possibilities, 12-feet-tall foam “L-O-V-E” letters were put up in the park before Tuesday’s meeting, for people to examine.
Behind them, in part of the area now occupied by the park’s parking lot, could be a new four- to five-story building, forming the backdrop for the “L-O-V-E” letters. Across Gravois, at the site of a former QT station, there might be another building several stories tall.
“We would love to see this as a priority project in the years to come,” Farr said.
Nearby, at 4914 Gravois, Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corp. has an option with Midwest BankCentre to buy the bank building and the site to develop a 50-unit senior housing complex, along with a commercial space and the bank.
Farr has said taller buildings near the Bevo Mill might augment the look of the several-stories-tall Bevo Mill.
Among the other proposals of the plan is narrowing Gravois by eliminating the left-turn lanes. Those lanes make motorists think they have more space in which to drive, and encourage them to drive faster, Farr said. Eliminating the left-turn lanes and narrowing Gravois could cut the average speed on Gravois to about 30 mph from 37 mph, he said.
The plan also suggests additional crosswalks on Gravois.
Among the different sections might be “Cars and Bars” near Christy, and “United Nations,” in the section east of the Bevo Mill where there are international restaurants.
One additional improvement in several years will be the replacement of the railroad viaduct, Barr said. At that time, the pedestrian path through the viaduct might be raised and the pavement refurbished.
Thirteenth Ward Alderwoman Beth Murphy, whose ward includes part of the study area, said she supported the plan.
“It is a long-range plan with some parts of it being implemented in the near future,” she said. She has committed capital funds allocated to the ward as approved by the Board of Public Service.