ntene Corporation for construction of a pedestrian bridge over Lee Avenue, off of Forsyth Boulevard east of Hanley Road.
Aldermen on Nov. 13 approved the bridge, which in early October had failed to win recommendation from the plan commission. The project will now go back to the plan commission for design approval.
The bridge will connect two garages that are part of the company’s headquarters expansion. The bridge will not be open to the public, and will only be accessible by identification card swipes by Centene employees and other tenants of several office towers in the Centene complex.
It will allow employees to go between the two garages, which will be on the east and west sides of Lee, and then on to offices to the west in Centene’s towers at the corner of Forsyth Boulevard and Hanley Road.
The Lee Avenue bridge was in Centene’s original 2016 expansion plans, but was voted down at that time. Centene continued to push for the bridge over Lee, bringing it back for recent reconsideration.
Both in 2016 and at recent meetings, Clayton officials expressed concerns about the impact of the bridge on pedestrian traffic along Forsyth Boulevard. Clayton officials have expressed a strong desire for retail along a walkable Forsyth, and fear the Lee Avenue bridge would allow Centene employees to get to and from their offices without leaving the building.
Centene’s first new tower was built about 10 years ago, and the company is now in the process of constructing a second tower.
Shannon Bagley, executive vice president of human resources for Centene, said the new expansion will bring about 3,000 new Centene and other tenant employees to the area. She said Centene expects only some of those 3,000 employees, about 770, to use the bridge on a regular basis.
She said it will also provide a measure of protection against inclement weather for employees.
Centene representatives said employees will park mainly in the east garage, while the west garage will be mainly for visitors. The west garage will be connected to a new tower at the southeast corner of Forsyth and Hanley. That tower and the east garage are currently under construction.
The west garage will allow for about 1,500 parking spots while the east garage will have approximately 1,380.
The overall project, which is expected to take several more years, includes several million square feet of office space, retail and residential components, more than 5,000 parking spaces and a 1,000-seat auditorium for use by Centene and for public events.