By SHERI GASSAWAY
The St. Louis Zoo has announced plans to buy a 425-acre complex in North St. Louis County owned by Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562. The plans would more than quadruple the zoo’s space, further its mission to save endangered animals and possibly allow the public to experience safaris on the land.
Earlier this month officials with the St. Louis Zoo Association, a private nonprofit group that oversees fundraising, and Local 562 entered into a purchase-sale agreement for land for $7.1 million pending a due diligence assessment.
The property, near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, includes Local 562’s headquarters at 12385 Larimore Road in Spanish Lake, MO, an auditorium and other buildings used for special events and several acres of open park-like space used for recreational endeavors. Emerald Greens Golf Course is also located on the property.
John O’Mara, Local 562 business manager and secretary-treasurer, said the announcement has created a stir of excitement in all of North St. Louis County. He added that the union couldn’t have picked a better owner with the zoo’s outstanding reputation.
“Local 562 is honored to sell this property to an organization that brings added value to the community,” O’Mara said. “We are confident the property is being left in good hands, and we wish the new owners continued success in the future.”
LOCAL 562 MOVING TO EARTH CITY
In July, Local 562 announced it was moving its headquarters and training center to Earth City to better serve its 4,000 members with a more centralized location.
The union bought the former ITT Technical Institute building located at 3640 Corporate Trail to house the union’s offices, health and welfare personnel and health center. The more-than 40,000-square-foot building is being renovated, and the move should take place later this year.
The new 70,000 square-foot training center, which is adjacent to the office buildings, will be located 3772 Corporate Center Dr. is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
THE ZOO’S PLANS FOR THE PROPERTY
After the due diligence assessment is completed, the zoo will develop a plan for the property that would enhance dedication and care for threatened and endangered animals. Plans also call for a “public component” to the new property, similar to other zoos which have off-site conservation breeding facilities and “wildlife and safari” experiences.
“The St. Louis Zoo is an incredible asset to the entire region and it is recognized as a world-class operation that provides tremendous economic value to our community,” said Joseph T. Ambrose, St. Louis Zoo Association president. “Maintaining the zoo’s world-class status requires the kind of forward-thinking represented in this purchase.”
(Information from the Labor Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KSDK-TV.)