Clayton delays appeal opposing plan for 22-story luxury apartment

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Clayton’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night tabled an appeal from a local developer looking to stop the rezoning and subsequent building of a luxury apartment on a city-owned parking lot at 8049 Forsyth Boulevard.

At the Jan. 9 Board of Aldermen meeting the Board approved a rezoning from High Density Commercial (HDC) to Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow a mixed use, commercial and multi-family residential development project to be built by Flaherty & Collins Properties, which allegedly bought the property from the city for $1.1 million before the end of the year.

The process was halted when on Jan. 17, the City received a letter from Gary H. Feder, counsel to KP Development, the owner of two story commercial buildings at 8019-8027 Forsyth Boulevard, directly adjoining the subject property, appealing the decision to approve the planned unit.

In the appeal, Feder claims that the rezoning to PUD of only the subject property denies KP Development the ability to effectively use or develop its property in the future. Feder argued that the appropriate decision would be further study by the city’s plan commission.

In front of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Feder also pointed out there is no record of the deed of sale being recorded with St. Louis County.

“I would just point out that the only people here who I think know whether this property actually did close in 2017 are Flaherty & Collins and the city,” Feder said. “I’m not suggesting otherwise, however, just as a matter of clarification, I would say that since Jan. 1 I have had my paralegal check every day with the recorder of deeds office to see if the transaction has closed or not. As of today, we are unable to find any evidence that the deed was recorded or that any other documents were recorded.”

Without any vote, Mayor Harold Sanger, speaking on behalf of the Board, said they should further consider the appeal being presented to them.

“I think we have all read what you have submitted and the reason for the appeal. I don’t think that we are prepared to vote on standing at this point, so I think we might spend a little more time on it and take it under advisement and come back on it another day,” Mayor Sanger said.

The decision to delay the vote caught Feder a little off guard.

“I was very surprised tonight,” Feder said. “But I think that bit of information that I shared with them caused them to think on it a little more.”

Rendering of apartment building overlooking Shaw Park in downtown Clayton.

Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins is planning a $70 million apartment tower on the site. Plans call for a 22-story, 228-unit high-rise would include a 373-space parking garage and 7,800 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Although it’s been approved by the city planning commission and Board of Aldermen, business owners in single-family residential homes adjacent to the proposed rezoning have expressed their opposition through speaking up at public meetings.

Some neighbors and others had questioned whether the amount of parking to be provided will be adequate in the project, being proposed at the site of a current city surface parking lot on the northeast corner of Brentwood and Forsyth boulevards. The developer wants to buy the lot from the city.

The current city lot has 29 hourly, metered parking spaces and 103 monthly-leased spaces. City officials have said a minimum of 132 parking spaces in the garage must be made available for public use. Charles Hull, architect for the project, has said the spaces would be shared, with residents able to use those spaces in the evenings and shoppers and others able to use them during the day. He said the parking not available to the public may be restricted by a gate and/or permit process.

KP also claims the rezoning should have included the entire block rather than a single parcel and that the project fails to meet the public benefit test because the existing 132 parking spaces on the subject site will be replaced as “shared” parking; shared parking allegedly will negatively impact future residents, restaurant patrons and new retail customers along with the current leased parkers.

The applicant also alleges some procedural errors and claims the Board of Aldermen had no justification to take a final vote at the same meeting as the public hearing and should have delayed voting to further study the project.

The Board will take the appeal under advisement and likely vote on it at the Feb. 27 meeting.

In other business, the Board tabled an ordinance to approve a contract with Gershenson Construction Co. Inc. for the Oak Knoll Park site improvements and parking lot project.

Bid documents for the site project were issued on Jan. 3. The scope of work includes improvements to the entrance of Oak Knoll Park, replacement of the parking lot, installation of lighting and site improvements along Big Bend Blvd.

Alderwoman Michelle Harris from Clayton’s Ward 2 pointed out that some residents are still not caught up on the city’s plan, which brought on a motion to delay.

“Some residents are feeling kind of left behind on what the plan is, and because — at least on Ridgemoor — these neighbors have had such dire issues with water over the years, as soon as they heard something was going on with water they flipped out,” Harris said. “I would like to suggest that even though I feel comfortable with this plan, we table this until we can educate these homeowners. I think that would be fair.”

The city received five responsive bids for this work on Feb. 1. City documents call for the Board to authorize the execution of a contract with Gershenson Construction in the amount of $588,000 for the project.

The Board also signed off on a contract extension with Midwest Pool Management for aquatic services at the Shaw Park Aquatic Center and Center of Clayton.

The city entered into a contract with the company in February of 2016 and approved the extension to outsource the hiring off staff at both its indoor and outdoor pools for $2,103,048 through 2021.

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