Revised Maryland School Town Homes Development Seeks Approval in Clayton

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

This month, the developer behind the Maryland School Town Homes revealed a further refined site plan, designed to win approval for the now 36-unit project. The three acre site was declared surplus property by the school district in 2009, and put on the market.

The existing school building, which last served as a public elementary school in 1980 would be demolished. Unfortunately, conversion of the existing building to condos appears problematic. Neighbors would likely oppose dense residential conversion, and the school district has a fiduciary responsibility to sell the property at market rate.

Some immediate neighbors who have long used the adjacent greenspace are opposing the town home project. Developers Higginbotham Custom Homes and Renovation, and Love Investment Company have continued to make changes in an attempt to address resident concerns. The builder is also asking Clayton residents to register their support for new housing and has set up a support page.

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO{revised Maryland School Town Home site plan showing 36 units}

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO{earlier Maryland School Town Home site plan showing 45 units}

A previous design included 45 units in nine buildings, with access from Jackson, Maryland, and Westmoreland Avenues. The revised plan is a response to predictable concerns about increased traffic and density. Now seven buildings, access is limited, concentrating traffic at one entrance on each Jackson and Maryland.

It’s not clear that the new plan is an improvement, even as it appears to address concerns. Instead of front facades, and a single driveway that would mirror the residential nature of the street, Westmoreland now shows the rear of two buildings, with landscaping meant to disguise the project. Instead of new housing oriented toward the existing neighborhood, it is oriented to the rear of the old Famous Barr department store (now Washington University offices) parking garage.

The town home plan shows units of 2,200 or 2,600 sf, with preliminary pricing starting at $750K. According to the developer, the project would produce $400K in net new annual tax revenue. The project is not requesting incentives, and the property is currently under contract. The revised design must be approved by the city’s planning and architectural review commissions.

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO

While it may be tempting to dismiss three quarter of a million dollar town homes as a completely optional luxury, diversity in housing options for Clayton (and communities across St. Louis) is incredibly important. In recent years Clayton residential development has focused on $1M+ single family homes, and high-rise condos.

As we have stated before, Clayton, and its residents are far from economically distressed, but that doesn’t mean the city is immune to economic and demographic changes. Clearly retail development has lagged and stagnated, and therefore so has sales tax revenue. The city can boast one of the most expensive office rent streets in the country, but can’t find a way to build next to a transit station. These problems aren’t going away, and Clayton has a lot to lose, whether or not its residents and leaders are aware.

Elevations:

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Additional detail:

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Site plan detail:

Maryland School Townhomes - Clayton, MO

Existing Maryland School site:

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO

Maryland School Town Homes - Clayton, MO