• The Rep - A Dolls House

Banks Proposed For 2 Maryland Avenue Properties In Clayton

Aldermen send proposals back to P&Z for consideration

Green Street Real Estate Ventures owns this piece of property which Mini of St. Louis just vacated. photo by Ursula Ruhl (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012
On Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, aldermen held public hearings to consider an amendment to the city's "neighborhood commercial" district.

Aldermen heard from attorney Gary Feder who is representing both Green Street Real Estate Ventures, LLC and Fifth Third Bank. Both companies have pieces of property on Maryland Avenue under contract— Green Street at 8455 Maryland and Fifth Third at 8321 Maryland.

The Green Street property is occupied by a car dealership that is moving. The Fifth Third property is a surface parking lot. There are several small retail spaces between the two properties that are not part of the deal.

The two properties are both zoned C-1, which allows for banks, but not for banks with drive-thrus. As part of their plans, both companies want to include banks with drive-thru capabilities or drive-up ATMs.

Green Street is proposing a four-unit mixed use development for the car dealership site. The development would include a bank with a drive-thru. Feder said talks are ongoing with Reliance Bank as a possible tenant.

Initially, the Fifth Third location was to include only a bank, but Feder said a second building may be added to the location. He did not indicate what its use may be.

Fifth Third already has a location in Clayton, but is looking to expand its operations and requires more space.

At the Aug. 28 meeting, Clayton City Manager Craig Owen said city staff was recommending that aldermen not adopt the amendment to allow drive-thrus, saying that an increase in area traffic, along with lighting, would cause problems for nearby residents.

Feder said the amendment is necessary because given current zoning regulations, Green Street and Fifth Third cannot even present their plans to the city. He told aldermen the plans were in line with Clayton's downtown master plan, which calls for redevelopment of the "Maryland Gateway," which serves as a western entrance to the city.

"We are trying to be creative with this site. It will bring jobs, life and diversity to this part of the city. We would be bringing some great uses to this site," said Philip Hulse, a principal with Green Street.

Feder and Hulse argued that the site already accommodates a drive-thru of sorts, with cars circulating in and out of the car dealership. They said an existing garage, which would remain, serves as a buffer for the residential area behind it.

At both public hearings, a total of five residents spoke and all were generally opposed to the project. In addition to issues of traffic and evening lights, residents said that changing the zoning would create an unwanted precedent.

Feder said language could be included in the amendment to allow for changes to the two properties, but not to other C-1 properties throughout the city. Aldermen sent the issue back to planning and zoning for its consideration.

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