Clayton likely to reject appeal opposing Flaherty & Collins’ luxury apartment plans

Clayton’s Board of Aldermen appears likely to reject 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 to allow a mixed use, commercial and multi-family residential development project to be built by Flaherty & Collins, which bought the property from the city for $1.1 million in December.

Rendering of apartment building overlooking Shaw Park in downtown Clayton.

Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties 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.

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.

The proposal has been met with stark criticism from many concerned residents and business owners who say they would be affected by the loss of parking spaces the new building would take away.

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.

According to the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., city staff is recommending that the appeal be denied, citing that the appellants have not established that they are an aggrieved party; specifically, the claim that they will suffer a loss of property value due to the inability to use, sell or develop their property in the future, has not been substantiated in their request.

“These arguments are speculative at best,” city staff said in a statement. “Therefore, the appellants have not met the requirement to identify a ‘demonstrable and material adverse effect’ they would suffer because of the Board’s decision.”

In other business, the Board is set 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.

The city received five responsive bids for this work on Feb. 1. City staff recommends awarding the contract to Gershenson Construction as they are the low bid, have extensive experience in parking lot construction and worked with the city on the Chapman Utility Project last year.

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 will also consider whether or not to sign 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 is expected to approve the extension for $2,103,048.

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