Solire “Millennial” Micro Apartments Planned for Downtown Clayton

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imagePlans have been submitted for review by the Clayton Architectural Plan Commission for a $10M, 78-unit apartment complex on the site of a now demolished Art Deco building. That building was removed in 2014 and the site has been vacant since.

The proposed apartments are a “Millennial” project, a reference to the small unit sizes proposed. There would be 28 units under 400sf, 30 just under 600sf, and 22 at 800sf in the 3-story, 50ft building, just east of Clayton’s central business district at 15-23 Lee Avenue.

While “Millennial” is the development buzzword of today, this project seems well-focused on the young professional renter. The smaller units would command a lesser rent than other nearby apartments under development. The project feature high-efficiency elements, such as centralized utilities and operable windows.

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According to the application submitted, the project is located within a Transit Oriented District and would prioritize transit use. The Forsyth MetroLink station is two blocks to the east. Still, plans show 79 parking spaces for 78 units that average less than 600sf. Despite this, it’s a good bet that “limited” parking will be a point of contention for the project.

Current R-4 zoning requires that the project as proposed would need relief from height, setback, lot area, and lot coverage requirements. The buildings are described as “floating” on a pedestal, and are designed to create visual interest with under lighting. On street parking could be added as unit parking would be access via an existing alley. The project is designed by Design is by Stewart, Schaberg & Turner / Architects, LLC of St. Louis.

The micro apartment proposal is just the latest in what’s becoming a booming development scene in Clayton. While the Maryland School project was defeated recently, new townhomes have been proposed at 121 N. Brentwood, the 212 N. Meramec apartment tower is under construction, as is the Vanguard development on the west side of downtown, and the Opus project on North Central. The Apogee office building should break ground soon, and across the street, Shaw Park will soon see a big investment. And of course Centene is gearing up for a big project(s). Clayton is changing quickly.

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The Art Deco apartment that stood on the site until 2014:

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  • Joy Popoola

    Just hope people don’t use the hallways for extra space and it turns into the book Highrise…

  • Tysalpha

    I’ve been struggling with what these buildings remind me of–other than general hideousness. And then it finally hit me: army barracks. They look like a bunch of 3-story army barracks!

    • Alex Ihnen

      Reminds me more of contemporary row houses in Denmark, Holland, or England:

      • Tysalpha

        Note, I’m not complaining about 1-bedroom and studio apartments–there’s obviously a need for them. It’s just the form, with the repeated plain pitched roofs, etc. Looks like this:

      • Tysalpha

        PS Alex, Northern Europe or not, your second image looks like army barracks, too. 😛 🙂

  • Bob Knight

    I don’t get it. Micro studios may work in boomtowns like Portland, Seattle, Denver, Boulder, or San Francisco, but people don’t want to live in a micro-studio just for the sake of living in a micro-studio. Living in a tiny apartment is a sacrifice people will make to live in these popular regions.

    • Chicagoan

      I think living “small” is a popular trend right now.

    • Adam

      They are also typically priced commensurate with their size as compared to larger units in those regions. Here, it sounds like they’re going to be more expensive than (admittedly older) units two or three times their size just because “micro”.

    • Alex Ihnen

      My first apartment was in the CWE, a studio of maybe 350sf. Several friends of mine live in studios or 1BR in St. Louis. It’s a popular housing size already. These would be for people who need that much space, but who want to be in Clayton and afford a little more rent.

      Honestly, the negativity of comments here gets me down sometimes. I’m a critic, I get it, but everything appears to be too ugly, too expensive, in the wrong municipality, etc. etc. etc. It’s always easy to tear down an idea, I suppose.

      • STLEnginerd

        After initial let down and some thought, i believe you are right. I will say that I don’t think its a very exciting design, but considering how the neighborhood fought the Maryland School development, maybe they are just looking for a quick approval process.

        Some of the renderings show brick facing so i can only assume the materials will not include vinyl. If that’s the case I think architecturally, its fine.

        And IF micro apartments would work anywhere in St. Louis, Clayton is probably near the top of the list. Why? Because it has the highest average rent per square-foot. In a way the developer is courageous for trying a different apartment format, so we should keep that in mind when we think about the architectural design.

  • John Gardner

    Typical ugly miserly architecture that dots Saint Louis. They can rarely do anything that is grand or stupendous. Tear down something beautiful and put a parking lot or something lacking aesthetical appeal.

    • Riggle

      Luckily its in Clayton Mo, not st louis

      • Guest

        It seems rather obvious that the folks running things in Clayton are either incredibly ignorant or flat out couldn’t care less about good architecture, the importance of architectural preservation (as this project and the building that once stood there clearly show) or how and where the location of a CBD of a metro area the size of St. Louis is essential and the importance of how it all fits in in today’s terms. It’s almost laughably obvious, and the shame is so many people have been deceived by it. It’s no wonder St. Louis has the image it does to the rest of the country…thanks to these (greed driven…?) folks.
        No one who’s at the top of their game wants to live in a city that has the image that we have. It needs to change. I’m glad that, even though on a small scale, some see the value of at least architectural preservation and understand how a successful city works. But such sentiment won’t be found in Clayton, leastwise not enough to make any sensible difference.
        I remember when St. Louis was a very cosmopolitan city. Where the hell did they all go, and why?

        • SnakePlissken

          “It seems rather obvious that the folks running things in Clayton are either incredibly ignorant or flat out couldn’t care less about good architecture”

          – I’d argue that Clayton has some of the most attractive housing in the region. Drive through Old Town, DeMun, The Moorlands, Polo Drive, Claverach Park and Wydown you’d agree. Sure, Downtown Clayton lacks transformative design but the 70’s/80’s are full of regretful style/design choices. This particular development though is like having an a$$hole on your elbow. You may have a nice physique but no one cares when they’re eyeing an a$$hole on your elbow. 🙂

          “I remember when St. Louis was a very cosmopolitan city. Where the hell did they all go, and why?”

          – Stagnant population, lack of migration, loss of young people over the last 30 years, conservative “show me” populace, lack of true progressives in positions of leadership in our region (our version of City democrats are equally as bad as rural conservatives in my opinion).

          Look at the people making Cortex and T-Rex a success. The majority are not from St. Louis.

          • Guest

            Oh, yes…housing..some very, very attractive and desirable housing in Clayton…I much agree with you on that. So, no argument on that fact from me.

            Yep, and I agree with the rest you said. However, St. Louis and it’s environs weren’t always stagnant and conservative. Those detrimental features seems to have developed since…late 60’s, early 70’s (?).

  • tztag

    What warranted the tear down of the old apartment building that was there? Looked like it served the purpose that this new development would address…

    • Chicagoan

      I was wondering this as well. The old Art Deco building was gorgeous and seemed quite capable of performing the function that this proposal is hoping to do.

      • Justin

        I’m guessing parking had something to do with the demolition.

        I believe there was a post on here about the demolition in 2014 that probably explained some of the reasons.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I believe the old building simply needed significant investment. I wish the decision would have been made to renovate. It would also be great if Clayton had some kind of architectural/preservation review. There is/was some great mid-century buildings, but several have been lost in just the last couple years.

  • Ice_Burned

    Much like Dormitories. Hope there is additional storage in a basement or something. Branding this ‘Millenial’ sounds to me like a dog whistle for ‘not intended for low income familes’. Oh Clayton, I see what you did there.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Well, the price won’t be for low income families (or low income anyone), nor are the apartment sizes for low income families (or families of any size).

      • Justin

        Do we know what the price range might be for these units?

        • Andy

          The other new developments in Clayton will be priced between $2.50-$2.80/SF. I’d imagine these will be at or slightly above that.

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