According to City Administrator Ryan Thomas and Economic Development Manager Julian Jacquin, the City Council’s Planning and Parks subcommittee has been provided with preliminary details of a proposed velodrome in Town Center at Old Manchester and Taylor roads.
About a year ago, the nonprofit Metro St. Louis Velodrome Association began searching for sites upon which to develop a new velodrome track. Currently, the association operates the region’s only velodrome track in Penrose Park in North St. Louis, which now is in substandard condition and would require major repairs and site improvements to bring it to an acceptable condition for continued use and competition.
In the interest of attracting a regional destination to the city’s Town Center, Thomas said he approached the association last summer to inquire whether they had considered Wildwood as a potential site for a new velodrome track.
“Given the current popularity of cycling in Wildwood and the unique opportunity to place a velodrome track near the heart of Wildwood’s downtown, the Metro St. Louis Velodrome Association was quickly drawn to a site at the northwest corner of Taylor Road and Old Manchester Road,” Thomas told the council in an April 19 memo, co-signed by Jacquin.
The proposed site, which is jointly owned by Greenberg Development and Dierbergs Markets, is an undeveloped, open field. Greenberg also owns additional property to the north of the proposed velodrome track site, and Greenberg/Dierbergs jointly own another property across Taylor Road to the east. Thomas told the council that, since the velodrome track would be such a unique destination for the region, it would help attract visitors to Town Center and encourage further retail growth.
“Seeing the potential to fill current vacancies at Dierbergs Town Center and to fill future retail space on their other adjacent property holdings, Greenberg Development and Dierbergs Markets have determined that it would be to their benefit to donate the land necessary for the proposed velodrome track to facilitate its development,” the memo said.
A total of about five acres is proposed to be donated to the city, which would provide the necessary land to build the velodrome track, and associated seating for 500, parking and access improvements. The proposed 250-meter-long track would be constructed with a wood surface, supported by a steel support structure and feature one or two tunnels to be provide access to a grass and paved surface infield.
The donation would be predicated on conditions, including that the property would only be used for public purposes and could not be resold to a private developer in the future and that, other than championship cycling events, no large-scale community events could be held at the velodrome facility, which could cause parking to bleed into Dierbergs Town Center.
Plans are for the velodrome track to be developed and operated under some form of lease agreement with the association.
City ownership of the land would provide benefits, including allowing the city overall control of the site and use of the property and facilities for other public purposes, such as an ice skating rink [in the track infield] during the cycling off-season, movie nights, fitness classes and more. Also, city ownership would provide opportunities for grant funding that the association would not be eligible for alone.
Thomas said a St. Louis County Municipal Parks grant of up to $540,000 and a Missouri Department of Natural Resources grant of up to $150,000 could potentially be secured for the project. Conceptually, the cost to build the velodrome track is estimated at $1.5 million, with a potential total project cost of about $4 million.
The extension of Eastgate Avenue, from Main Street to Old Manchester Road, also is proposed as part of the plan. The potential exists for added on-street parking on the west side of Eastgate Avenue, with the cooperation of the adjacent New Community Church, officials said. An additional east/west street or access drive is planned along the north side of the track, from Taylor Road to Eastgate Avenue.