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Gateway Arch Grounds to Be Renovated Through Bonds: Muni Deals

A Missouri agency plans to offer municipal bonds to fund renovations around St. Louis’s Gateway Arch and the courthouse that held the Dred Scott trial.

The Great Rivers Greenway District will borrow about $57 million as soon as tomorrow for projects including landscaping and pathways near the Arch and improved safety and access to the Old Courthouse, according to offering documents. The 630-foot (192-meter) high arch was built in 1963 as a monument to Thomas Jefferson and other pioneers who considered St. Louis the “Gateway to the West.”

The sale may benefit from reduced supply of municipal bonds, with issuance falling 27 percent this year through Feb. 7 compared with the same period in 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fewer deals have helped keep benchmark 10-year yields at 2.66 percent as of the end of last week, close to the lowest level since June.

“One of the things we discussed was we needed to push it out there” because of the lack of supply, said Susan Trautman, the district’s executive director. “We know there’s demand.”

The structure is part of the larger Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, a unit of the National Park Service. The Great Rivers Greenway was created in 2000 after a majority of voters in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and the city approved its creation. It has no taxing power, gaining funding through sales levies.

Dred Scott

In a May 2007 sale, the district issued $30 million of bonds that mature through 2027, Bloomberg data show. The long-term debt last traded on Jan. 16 at 103.9 cents on the dollar to yield about 3 percent.

The sales-tax appropriation bonds have an A1 rating from Moody’s Investors Service, the fifth-highest level.

The CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2009, is providing $220 million of private funding mostly for redeveloping the visitors’ center below the arch, Trautman said.

Some of the bond proceeds will also go toward building ramps and providing communication devices at the Old Courthouse, she said. Dred Scott was a slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom in the building, which is now part of the memorial.

“We’ll be developing new amenities for people to visit St. Louis so we can really enhance the experience,” Trautman said.

Issuers nationwide plan to offer about $2.6 billion in long-term debt this week, the least since the period through Jan. 10, Bloomberg data show. Over the next 30 days, states and cities have set just $3.4 billion of sales, the slowest stretch this year.

At the same time, demand has rebounded. Individuals added about $82 million to municipal-bond mutual funds in the week through Feb. 12, reversing a $227 million withdrawal in the prior period, Lipper US Fund Flows data show.

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