Townhomes Planned for Harris Armstrong Home Site in Clayton

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn14Print this pageEmail this to someone

A request to re-zone this site was stopped short of being sent to the Clayton Board of Aldermen. The city’s planning staff recommended the Plan Commission approve the re-zoning, which would have cleared the way for the city’s aldermen to approve the development. The Plan Commission decided against sending it to the BoA. Despite the well-reasoned professional recommendation, as the Post-Dispatch noted, the powerful Clayton NIMBYs have won again.

The other townhome development denied would have been build on the site of the long vacant Maryland School. That plan was reduced and reduced again in hopes of winning approval from neighbors, before failing. Elsewhere in St. Louis City and County, where residential density can (and should) be added, NIMBYs continue to smother development.

The staff recommendation to the Plan Commission:

The subject property is located on a corner lot at the southeast corner of a predominately singlefamily subdivision, within walking distance of Downtown jobs, businesses and other attractions. The site was previously used for non-residential purposes for over 30 years. Given the site’s location and layout, staff is of the opinion that rezoning the property to R-4 would not have a detrimental effect on nearby properties. At this location, a low density multi-family land use is compatible with the adjacent land uses and will provide a transition from the commercial properties to the south and east, the multi-family building to the east, and single-family homes to the west and north. Staff is of the opinion that the project advances the Master Plan by encouraging the reutilization of land, permitting increased densities and providing quality housing to meet housing needs.

*above added 7/19/2016



A Harris Armstrong designed residence, long altered and converted to a office space with a small apartment at 121 N. Brentwood Boulevard in Clayton, is currently under demolition. Conceptual plans by Michael Lauren Development LLC and the Lawrence Group call for a  $3.6M four-unit townhome development on the site.

The well-known white stucco building at the corner of Westmoreland Avenue and Brentwood Boulevard, just north of Maryland Avenue, had been vacant for several years. It was purchased by the developer in September of last year for $665K.

Harris Armstrong_Clayton 2Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.27.47 AM

The building was in poor condition with extensive water damage and other needs, though the building’s major systems were not factually “ancient” as described in the proposal for rezoning.

The request for a zoning change is straightforward, from current R2 single family dwellings to R4 low density multiple family dwelling district. The argument is that the parcel is adjacent to higher-density uses, serves as something of a gateway to Clayton for some visitors, adds residential density (a stated goal of the Clayton Master Plan), and would not increase traffic to the site above that of its prior use.

That seems simple, but Clayton residents did recently defeat an effort by a developer to replace a long vacant school with a townhome development next to single family homes. That project, at the old Maryland School needed a similar zoning variance and was about a quarter-mile from the Forsyth MetroLink station and adjacent to parcels abutting Forsyth zoned as central business district. Residents argued that the city must adhere to existing zoning that favored single family development. It’s unknown if there will be similar opposition in this case.

Just last month, the St. Louis Style Blog by real estate agent Ted Wight (a nextSTL advertiser) brought attention to the building with a short blog post showing the start of demolition. From that post:

The building was designed for the Late Dr. E. H. Jacobsmeyer (a dentist) in 1939. Dr. Jacobsmeyer was very active in the community and he attended Washington University School of Dentistry. Dr. Jacobsmeyer served as President of the Washington University Dental Alumni Association in 1942. Interesting, albeit unrelated, he also was involved in Mitchell v. Poole in the St. Louis Court of Appeals as a witness for the Plaintiff in 1934, at which time he had been practicing Dentistry for 16 years. Dr. Jacobsmeyer served as an alderman under Mayor Roy P. Atwood – the 4th Mayor of Clayton, 1924-28 – in 1924. Clayton traces its existence to the infamous divorce of St. Louis city and county in 1876. A book written in 2013 discusses how the first few mayors of Clayton had integral roles in shaping what is now a booming city.

Harris Armstrong_Clayton 1

The townhome proposal is for a four-unit building with tuck-under parking, accessed from a driveway off an existing alley. The units would face Brentwood, with the northernmost unit designed to mimic the single-family home massing on Westmoreland. Drawings show the units as 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, with two garage parking spaces, outdoor decks and rooftop terraces.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.28.16 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.27.57 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.28.49 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.28.59 AMBrentwood_6 Brentwood_5 Brentwood_4 Brentwood_3 Brentwood_2Brentwood map

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn14Print this pageEmail this to someone
  • Pingback: GVK Bioscience()

  • resident

    Not much explanation needed. Clayton Gardens has seen this relationship play out repeatedly over the past decade+. Mr. Porta’s residence is a perfect example of this. This is a neighborhood on the edge of a central business district. Development will and should happen. Relax. It will be okay.

  • DCWind

    Given the size of some of the adjacent properties, this project has very appropriate massing and density (maybe slightly lacking density, but that is a different discussion). It scales well with the single family homes on Westmoreland, without seeming to lose significance, especially with the Maryland condos right across the way. The design has interesting and well-designed setbacks to decrease the feel of a 3-story townhome and it fits well as a gateway/bookend to the smaller scale residential neighborhood and its location on Brentwood. Let’s hope the residents of Clayton can see the neighborly benefits of this project, especially since they defeated the relatively well proportioned Maryland School Townhome project.

  • Pingback: Townhomes Planned for Harris Armstrong Home Site in Clayton - ConstructForSTL()

  • John Porta

    Live next door to this monster. WeIll oppose big time

    • Adam

      Of course you will. God forbid you have to live next to people in a city. (And in this case well-to-do people. My heart goes out to you.) After all, the last thing we want is a healthy level of density to support nice things like transit and local commerce.

      • Framer

        I can sympathize with Mr. Porta’s opposition to this; after all, it’s a three-story wall which will close-in his backyard. That’s a pretty big impact. That being said, however, the impact will mostly be felt by just one family, and living in a close-in neighborhood like this, you’ve got to expect this kind of thing to happen sooner or later. It brings to mind the saying, “If you like your view, then buy it”.

        • Alex Ihnen

          It will be another test of the city’s zoning (and the ability to change it).

        • STLEnginerd

          If Mr. Porta is indeed the house next door then a little comparison. The Porta House is 2 stories, this is 3, The current distance between his house and the current house is about 13 feet, the proposal look like it would increase that distance to about (guessing here) 20-25 feet. Mr Porta House takes up approximately half the length of the lot its on. The proposed site plan takes up around 2/3rd of the length of it’s lot.

          The new building will probably serve to reduce some road noise he currently gets and if anything he should insist the developer pay for a high quality 6 foot privacy fence. I just don’t get the resistance.

          He should be thankful that no one is seeking to build a 17 story tower which there is a fairly fresh example of a few hundred feet away. 3 stories will improve the transition IMHO.

      • thomas h benton

        I typically hate broad generalizations, but Clayton people are always the worst.

  • John Porta

    Four is too many units. Two at max.

    • Adam

      According to the site plan the four units fit just fine.

    • STLEnginerd

      Why is two the max, what drives that in your judgement? For many her four is not nearly enough, and for several, well any development in clayton is a loss to the city. My thinking is that four isn’t going to fu da mentally change the character of the neighborhood.

  • Framer

    Sorry to see any Harris Armstrong houses go, but the new building looks pretty nice.