If the Zoo-Museum District doesn't expand to include more counties around the St. Louis metro area, visitors may have to start paying admission to visit the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum and other cultural venues.
That's according to Zoo-Museum District Board member Charlie Valier. With grand plans to expand the zoo across I-64/US-40, civic leaders are trying to find the best way to raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Valier told the board yesterday that there are three options to raise revenues: Ask voters to raise the tax rates; Charge admission; or widen the Zoo-Museum District to include St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin Counties in Missouri, and Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois.
Valier told the paper that six counties support cultural venues in the Denver area, and three support those in Detroit.
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.