July 21, 2019

Webster University master plan breakthrough solution: Win-Win-Win for City, Webster University & Eden Seminary

By Dave Buck

This shares a simple, powerful breakthrough solution to end the Webster U master plan controversy, as they prepare to begin City Hall’s approval process.

Problem

Beginning over 3 years ago, the biggest issue has been whether Webster U should expand north across Lockwood Avenue to own and occupy 5.25 acres of Eden property, including the Luhr building, Wehrli Center and White House.

Background

1.  Webster Groves recently received the state’s “Creative Community” award for its outstanding efforts to advance appreciation and participation in the arts.

2.  Building on this reputation, a BIG IDEA gaining wide support is transforming the Luhr building into a Webster Groves Creative Community Center, with art galleries, studios, classes, lectures, demonstrations, performance areas, etc. and adjacent to the Eden “green space”, home of Art & Air.

3.  Page 53 of the Webster U master plan states: 1) “The University’s property north of East Lockwood Avenue is envisioned as a second administrative center and possibly community center”, and 2) “The University is also interested in engaging with the Webster Groves Community to develop University/City collaborative initiatives that might be located in the Luhr building.”

Solution

City Council approves the Webster U master plan under the condition that the Luhr building is shared: 1) the front half and surrounding grounds for the Creative Community Center, and 2) the back half for the university’s IT Center.  Webster U’s plans to convert the Wehrli Center into an Alumni Affairs Office and raze the White House for additional parking or green space remain unchanged.

Rationale

This is a win-win-win collaborative solution: 1) Webster U gets their master plan, sharing only a small part with the City; 2) Eden gets needed funds by selling this vacant property; and 3) Webster Groves gets a beautiful new Creative Community Center for the community’s enjoyment for years to come.

 

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