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Best Addition to Downtown St. Louis 2012 - Cautious optimism

Ssshhhh: Don't look now, but things are, like, almost happening. OK, OK, the anticlimax of the Ballpark Village That Wasn't during the All-Star Game a few years back still smarts, but plans for a German-themed, Anheuser-Busch-backed restaurant there have been unveiled: At long last, BPV's first tenant. Booyah, Centene Corp. (And wasn't that big, empty field somewhat idyllic in a Field of Dreams sort of way?) Peeks at the renovation of the St. Louis Central Library reveal a stunning, $70 million restoration of Cass Gilbert's Beaux Arts landmark while adding new spaces such as an atrium, cafe, auditoriums and children's areas. It is on pace to open by the end of the year and will house nearly 5 million books and documents when all's said and done. Maryland Heights-based company Lodging Hospitality Management promises to breathe new life into struggling Union Station. The old Kiel is the shiny new Peabody, and construction of the new Mississippi River Bridge is well on its way, a fitting metaphor for downtown itself.

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