The Cortex Innovation Community, known as the Midwest’s premier innovation hub of bioscience and technology research, development and commercialization, now has its own MetroLink Station. The opening of the Cortex MetroLink Station July 31, 2018, provides a much-needed, convenient transportation option for thousands of nearby employees and visitors to the Cortex district where parking is at a premium.
Founded in 2002 through a collaboration of Washington University, BJC Healthcare, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Cortex is home to 350 technology-related businesses and provides entrepreneurial support programs to the entire St. Louis community. The 200-acre Cortex district is located in Midtown between Grand Avenue and Forest Park, bordered by I-64 to the south and Forest Park Boulevard to the north.
The Cortex district is one of the region’s fastest-growing job centers with over 4,000 people employed by companies in the Cortex community. Within 10 years, that number is expected to reach 13,000. The Cortex MetroLink Station will serve an ever-growing number of businesses, hotels and retail outlets in the district. A new 129-room Cortex Aloft Hotel, designed to appeal to the “next generation” traveler, is scheduled to open fall of 2019.
The Cortex Station, located in the central corridor between the Central West End (CWE) and Grand MetroLink Stations (riders disembark just across from the BJC Commons building, 4249 Clayton Avenue) is the first station added to the bi-state region’s light rail system in more than a decade and the first to be partially funded by public and private sources.
The two-minute ride from the CWE Station to the Cortex Station will be a major convenience for WU researches such as Sanjay Jain, MD, PhD, who must travel frequently to the Cortex district.
“We are heavy users of the Genome Technology Access Center GTAC in the Cortex building,” says Dr. Jain, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Director of the WU Kidney Translational Research Center (KTRC). “GTAC is the premiere genomic technologies facility on campus and assists in our kidney disease sequencing, kidney cell lineages and human kidney and urinary tract single cell atlas projects.”
The Jain laboratory focuses on development and diseases of the urogenital and nervous systems. Dr. Jain says that by working with GTAC, the KTRC is able to implement new genomic technologies applicable to kidney disease research. “The new Cortex MetroLink station will provide convenient access to the Cortex area, including GTAC, new collaborations with the biotech companies in the area … and restaurants!”
Opening alongside the Cortex MetroLink Station was the first quarter-mile section of the Chouteau Greenway bike and pedestrian path between Sarah Street and Boyle. When the entire five-mile greenway is complete, people will be able to walk or ride a bike all the way from Forest Park to the Gateway Arch on a paved, accessible greenway that is separate from the street.
The Cortex MetroLink Station and Chouteau Greenway project was made possible through a partnership between the Federal Transit Administration, Cortex, Washington University, BJC Healthcare, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, Citizens for Modern Transit, Metro Transit and Bi-State Development. The project will also fund extension of the CWE Station platform, which is scheduled to start soon and take six months to complete.