Clayton’s Central Presbyterian Church Offers Expansion, Reuse Alongside Demo for Parking

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{looking southwest from Hanley Road – image by CORE10 Architecture}

I last wrote about the "race to de-densify" a year ago. Central Presbyterian Church on Hanley Road in Clayton was proposing to demolish an apartment building and two residences wihtin the David Place neighborhood. Kirkwood was buying and demolishing storefronts for parking and Shrewsbury was announcing a car dealership next to its MetroLink station. Instead of demolishing occupied residential buildings in good repair, we suggested investing in making Hanley a more walkable, shall we say, stroad. Lighted crosswalks, better signage and more could make nearby parking more usable.

Recently, increasing demands for parking by aging congregations has become news elsewhere. Aaron Renn wrote about the issue in Chicago on his Urbanophile blog and Paul Hohmann detailed demolition in the dense St. Louis neighborhood of Skinker-DeBaliviere on his Vanishing STL site. The pressure put on our built environment by an aging population that demands, and sometimes needs, ever more accessible parking, is a massive looming challenge.

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{aerial view looking northwest – image by CORE10 Architecture}

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{looking east – image by CORE10 Architecture}

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{site plan – image by CORE10 Architecture}

But a new proposal by the Central Presbyterian Church shows the issue isn't always straigtforward. The church is hoping to build a three-story, 24,000 square foot addition to the existing structure. Two homes on Biltmore would be repurposed and connected with a 4,000 square foot addition and a two-story 95 space parking garage would replace the existing apartment building facing Hanley Road.

The parking garage replacing an occupied residential building is an unwelcome plan. A half block away, a closed Schnucks grocery store has sat for a decade. Decreasing the residential density of the neighborhood works against the development of this lot.

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{stalled development – Clayton Road looking west to Hanley}

Despite this, the new design is a big step forward. The addition to the church adds to the street front and the curb cuts for parking, while busier, simply replace those of the existing apartment building. The re-use of the residential buildings on Biltmore is wonderful as well. Overall, the project appears to be a good compromise.


{church in blue – condo demolition in red – future home demolition in yellow – existing parking in green}

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{this residential building would be demolished for parking}

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  • RyleyinSTL

    Churches already have the ability to commandeer a traffic lane, from some roads, for parking on Sundays in many areas. How much parking do these places need for 1 day a week? Car pool, park in the neighborhood surrounding the church, there are alternatives. Allowing these dying institutions to consume vibrant neighborhoods will seem as misguided as many other similar decisions from the past.

  • http://www.preservationresearch.com Michael R. Allen

    Wait, a viable building wrecked for 39 spots used mainly once a week? Outrageous.

  • CWEnder was taken

    95 spots, well then that more like it!

  • STLEnginerd

    I sympathize with the issue and its valid but it would be unfortunate. Clayton has a long way to go before it reaches the parking nightmare stage seen in many other parts of the metro area but those who do not learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

    Also wouldn’t having a youth run valet service for elderly parishioners be a more communally driven and cheaper solution.

    • Simon Nogin

      Great comment and great idea!

  • Presbyterian

    I believe the issue driving this is that St. Louis County’s main concern is moving traffic on Hanley … and so they’ve restricted parking there. Also, the City of Clayton’s priority is happy residents, and so it has restricted parking in the Davis Place subdivision behind the church during the week, when the church is very busy with programs. With these recent restrictions on street parking, it leaves Central Pres with few alternatives. It is a very large and very busy congregation. (For the record, I have no affiliation with Central.)

  • Simon Nogin

    I’m shocked by this new post.
    In the original post made on the subject 1 year ago, the following was said: “Once these homes and buildings are gone and replaced with surface parking, it will be decades before they are redeveloped, if ever. Better solutions are obvious. Existing structured parking exists 1/8 of a mile away. For the cost of demolition, construction and maintenance of a parking lot, and lost revenue to Clayton, many creative and effective solutions are possible.”

    Also quoted from the year old post: “We understand it’s all the rage these days, demolishing perfectly functional (and in this case occupied) buildings for “progress” (and in this case a surface parking lot), but the utter lack of expectations for our built environment is creating less livable communities.”

    I’m utterly shocked at the change in tone one year makes, Alex Ihnen. The only things that have changed from the original design is re-purposing the two homes instead of demolishing, building an expansion to the main building, and adding underground parking to the originally proposed at surface parking lot.

    In the original “Race to De-densify” post, proposed were remarkable ideas that really should be implemented throughout the metro area, as well as cities everywhere. Pictured is a screenshot of the ideas mentioned.

    I agree that an aged population needs more accessible parking, but I would not agree that this proposal is a “good compromise.” Ideas like STLEnginerd suggested are simple yet could be very effective.