The Clayton Plan Commission heard from numerous speakers at Monday night’s meeting regarding their issues with a developer’s plans to build a 22-story luxury apartment tower on a parking lot it’s buying from the city of Clayton.
The city negotiated a deal to sell the 0.86-acre lot at 8409 Forsyth Boulevard to Flaherty & Collins Properties for $1.1 million back on Feb. 3, but residents and business owners say their parking issues have been ignored.
The rezoning and planned development of the proposed site was reviewed by the Clayton Plan Commission Monday night, but was not voted on because fliers notifying the public of the meeting were not mailed out within the required 10 days prior to the meeting.
The Plan Commission may vote on the rezoning and plan development at the Dec. 18 meeting.
Multiple speakers ranging from home owners to business owners are worried the project is going to be ramrodded through the city without taking into account its impact on them and the surrounding neighborhood, which has seen three other apartment buildings go up in the last two years.
“This is a large building unit that’s being crammed into a small space with inadequate space and inconvenient parking in a picturesque intersection of our city,” said Dr. Andrew Galakatos, who lives in the Maryland Walk building. “Please take your time in serving the citizens of Clayton before you take any action on this particular project.”
The area was identified as a top redevelopment priority in the city’s master plan in 2010. As part of the agreement, at least 132 public parking spaces will be included in the project’s proposed 324-spot parking garage to serve nearby restaurants and residents. The existing city-owned lot has 29 metered spaces and 100 leased spaces, but critics say the new proposal will not be enough.
“The parking provided by this project and for this project isn’t sufficient and it’s relevant to rezoning because the current requirements for this district are two spaces per each unit,” said Gary Fader, a lawyer with Husch Blackwell, who works across the street. “This parking garage is vastly under parked and reduces the required amount of spaces from 2 per residence to 1.4. On top of that, the contract between the city and Flaherty & Collins required them to replace the 130 spaces. They haven’t replaced the 130 spaces in this plan.”
Some argued the garage attached to the apartment tower will be an eyesore to the community, while Fader added that several of the proposed spots inside the garage will be unusable.
“If the numbers weren’t bad enough, there approximately 39 of the 324 spaces that aren’t usable,” Fader said. “A report we requested points out that there are 39 slots that because they’re parallel only you can’t get out of the passenger side of a car. Once you take those out your ratio of spots per residence are reduced to 1.25.”
Less than two weeks ago, the planned $70 million tower to be called Shaw Park Apartments was scaled down, according to the latest architectural plans filed with the city of Clayton.
New plans call for a 22-story tower with 228 units and a 324-space parking garage. A small amount of retail space was added on the ground floor, which could add to the city’s parking challenges.
“None of what we’ve talked about tonight takes into account that there will be new retail space and there will be additional need for parking space,” said Richard Smith, a concerned resident. “That means the unit numbers in the current parking garage will no longer be adequate because we’re adding another strip of retail establishment. The numbers are even worse.”
Deron Kintner, lead project developer with Flaherty & Collins, tried to quell the resident’s concerns by attempting to carify some of the proposed parking issues.
“The goal here is to simply make the parking sustainable and also economical,” said Deron Kintner, lead project developer with Flaherty & Collins. “We think there is plenty of parking, in fact, by our study the 1.4 per unit is significantly more than many other apartments in Clayton offer. We are going to work with you to do what we can to pretty it up.”