Zoo news letterhead

Oct. 5, 2012

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, ext. 4633
Christy Childs, ext. 4639; Joanna Bender, ext. 4703

Saint Louis Zoo Association Purchases Forest Park Hospital Property

Once-in-a-Lifetime Expansion Opportunity to Further Enhance Visitor Experience

The Saint Louis Zoo Association on Oct. 5 closed on its purchase of the 13.5-acre Forest Park Hospital site at 6150 Oakland Ave. in the city of St. Louis, allowing the Zoo to expand its land area to further enhance the visitor experience and support wildlife conservation.

Payment for the site came from the funds of the Saint Louis Zoo Association and not from taxpayer revenue. The association is a private, nonprofit organization with a volunteer board of business and community leaders providing leadership for fundraising and other activities at the Zoo.

The hospital site offers the only nearby land available to the Zoo, the second smallest in land area of the major accredited zoos in Missouri.

The association announced on March 12 a contract for the property, conditioned upon completion of multiple due diligence audits; these were completed in July.

The association bought the property from Medline Industries, Inc. Price and contract terms were not disclosed due to a confidentially agreement with the seller.

The March 12 announcement was followed by more than a dozen meetings with members of the Zoological Park Subdistrict Commission, the Zoo Association Board and a planning committee that included Zoo volunteer leadership, the chair of the commission, community leaders and other stakeholders interested in determining how the site would be developed.

“We have assembled a great team to move forward in developing this site and believe with their guidance, this property will help the Zoo further its mission of enhancing the visitor experience and will significantly improve the site to the benefit of the city, region and nearby communities,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo.

In July, the Zoo’s planning committee issued a request for qualifications that led to the selection of a planning team. That team includes two St. Louis-based companies, planning and landscape architectural firm SWT Design and Vector Communications. SWT Design will work with Chicago-based architect Edward Uhlir, owner of Uhlir Consulting, LLC, to develop a visioning plan. Uhlir was a major force in developing the acclaimed Millennium Park in Chicago.

Vector Communications will lead the public engagement initiative seeking input from a variety of stakeholders, including those residents living near the site. Vector managed the highly successful community outreach effort for the reconstruction of Highway 64-40.

This detailed planning process is expected to take six to eight months. In late spring or early summer of 2013, the Zoo expects to announce its framework plan for the site – including specifics on any structures targeted for removal.