The Saint Louis Zoo Association and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 have entered into a purchase sale agreement for the union’s 425-acre complex in north St. Louis County for $7.1 million, using privately donated funds. Pending a due diligence assessment, the Zoo Association would own the property as part of its long-range plan to help the Zoo’s mission to conserve animals.
“We have long desired an expanded land area to provide the best possible care for animals, especially a place where we can focus on conservation breeding efforts with endangered animals and those that are at risk,” said Jeffrey Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Louis Zoo. “There are very few parcels of land in the metropolitan area that could meet this need and we are grateful to have entered into this agreement with Local 562. The property offers great terrain, perimeter fencing, utilities, lakes, good buffers surrounding and existing buildings.”
“The purchase will be made with local philanthropic gifts intended for procurement of this property. No taxpayer dollars were used,” said Joseph T. Ambrose, President of the Saint Louis Zoo Association. “The Saint 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. Maintaining the Zoo’s world-class status requires the kind of forward thinking represented in this purchase.”
Once the due diligence assessment is finalized over the next several months, the Zoo will embark on a plan to develop the property for the purposes of enhanced dedication and care for threatened and endangered animals. While specific details are not yet known, there also will likely be a public component to this property. This is similar to other zoos that have off-site conservation breeding facilities, and the public element offered often includes a wildlife and safari experience.
“As Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 leave a nearly 50-year legacy behind, we look forward to enhancing our training program for generations to come,” said John O’Mara, Local 562 Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer. “Since the late 1960s, this site has been the home of hardworking skilled craftsmen in the plumbing and pipefitting industry. This also was the place where families would gather after work and on weekends, keeping the tradition of brotherhood alive in Local 562.”
“Local 562 is honored to sell this property to an organization that brings added value to the community,” said O’Mara. “We are confident the property is being left in good hands and we wish the new owners continued success in the future.”
“We are committed to maintaining our century-old campus in Forest Park, which has significant infrastructure needs, including modernization of habitats to meet evolving standards of care. We also have a tremendous need for additional space,” said Bonner. “Today’s announcement sets forth a bright and optimistic path for one of America’s great zoological gems.”
According to Bonner, The Staenberg Group (TSG) was instrumental in helping to secure the property. “We would like to extend a special thanks to Michael Staenberg, President at TSG, and Tim Lowe, Vice President of Leasing and Development at TSG.”
“We are excited for our future,” Bonner said. “With the development of this agreement, our Zoo will remain at the very forefront of zoological institutions in the world and preserve a great heritage for the greater St. Louis region.”
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