Clayton’s Board of Aldermen approved on Tuesday the rezoning for a luxury apartment at its first formal meeting of 2018.
The board signed off on selling a city-owned parking lot on Dec. 19, and cleared yet another hurdle for the project with Tuesday’s vote, paving the way for a new 22-story luxury apartment to be called Shaw Park Apartments at the corner of Forsyth and Brentwood Blvds in downtown Clayton.
The board voted unanimously to rezone that property from High Density Commercial District to Planned Unit Development, at the request of the developer, despite backlash from several speakers who voiced their concerns in opposition of the project.
“We have investigated and found very legitimate reason for the property to change hands, which would be a benefit to the developer, and there’s a specific circumstance for us to buy that property back at the same price if the project does not meet our expectations,” Mayor Harold Sanger said. “So while I appreciate what’s been said here tonight in opposition, those of us sitting up here recognize that there’s some things missing.”
The property, which will include 228 units and a 324-space parking garage, was appraised for $3.13 million. A small amount of retail space was added on the ground floor in the most recent revised plans. The project will include a rooftop pool and sky bar.
Although it’s been approved by the board, business owners in single-family residential homes adjacent to the 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 0.86-acre surface parking lot.
Gary Feder, an attorney with Husch Blackwell representing KP Development which owns buildings at 8025 and 8027 Forsyth Boulevard immediately south and east of the site, argued against the board approving the rezoning and instead going back to the bargaining table to negotiate a different development.
“The proposed project is a public-private partnership between the city of Clayton and the developer. As such, it is in the best interest of both parties to maximize the developable area of the property in order to minimize the needs for the direct subsidies in order to create a financially viable project,” Feder said.
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 lot available to the public may be restricted by a gate and/or permit process.
Lee Cannon, with CBB Transportation, the city’s traffic and parking consultant, has insisted the number of proposed garage parking spaces would be adequate.
Representatives from Lochmueller Group, a full-service survey, planning, engineering and environmental firm serving clients throughout the U.S., said the proposed parking garage could be arranged to more adequately serve both public and residential parking.
Feder unsuccessfully asked the board to delay its vote, citing concerns that proposed parking is insufficient and claiming shared public spaces aren’t adequate for the need.
“You’ve been asked tonight to rezone a project that does nothing to include the balance of the block, despite the fact that there is an opportunity to do so,” Feder said to the board. “Not only does the current plan not include any of the portion of the project area, it detrimentally affects the project area and on top of that eliminates 132 parking spaces and fails to replace them.”
Deron Kintner, lead project developer with Flaherty & Collins, at the request of Mayor Sanger, said Flaherty & Collins would be willing to work with the city to up the number of public spaces to about 45 spaces.
Feder also argued that the project was fast-tracked to which the board disagreed.
“This has not been a rushed deal. We’ve had multiple hearings on different aspects on it,” Mayor Sanger said to those in attendance. “So I just want you to understand that it’s not something that we’re trying to accomplish overnight. This is an almost three-year process.”
The board also approved a subdivision plat for Shaw Park Apartments and Centene Corporation’s employment education and daycare facility at the Maryland School Property at 7501 Maryland Avenue.
In other business, the board granted a liquor license for Bao, a new restaurant specializing in Chinese steamed buns, which is scheduled to open later this month at 14 N Central Avenue in Clayton.