A landmark in Kirkwood, the United Missouri Bank building (UMB), may be on the chopping block. As the Times went to press on Wednesday evening, the Kirkwood Planning and Zoning Commission was slated on Nov. 6 to take up a plan for a 178-unit high-rise apartment complex for the bank site.
At six-stories, Kirkwood Flats would be among the largest buildings in Kirkwood. The development will include 297 parking spaces, of which 219 will be structured. They will be a mix of public and private parking spots.
Altus Properties and HOK, two St. Louis companies, are behind the project. The duo recently completed the Grand Flats project on South Grand Avenue in the city’s Compton Heights neighborhood.
The Kirkwood project is slated for 426 N. Kirkwood Road across the street from Global Foods Market. The new development is also located next door to the Alpine Shop and Tom’s Service Station fronting Kirkwood Road.
“Multiple developments in our downtown periphery will dramatically change the character of Kirkwood, with a loss of our small town charm,” said Kirkwood resident .
“Other negative impacts from the increased density might include –encroachment on adjacent residential neighbors, loss of greenspace, increased traffic, and strain on infrastructure,” noted Paulsen. “There are no impact fees to offset the cost of infrastructure needs and cost of school improvements needed to accommodate the additional students at Kirkwood’s schools.”
Kirkwood Mayor Tim Griffin said he was unable to comment on the impact of the proposed development on any threat it might pose to the small-town feel of Kirkwood.
“The proposal is on the agenda for the planning and zoning commission meeting for Wednesday,” said Griffin. I can’t comment while projects are before planning and zoning.”
Nathan Wilber, board president of the group known as ModernSTL, said there are many Kirkwood residents in his organization who are upset with the Kirkwood Flats proposal. He said his group numbers over 100 and includes preservationists, historians, artists, architects and designers.
“Our group would argue that United Missouri Bank is a very significant building that exemplifies the extensive use of glass, almost a curtain of glass,” said Wilber. “It’s consistent with the modern architecture of the mid-century period of the last century.
“It’s definitely a landmark, and it’s part of the scale of the city that makes Kirkwood approachable and liveable,” added Wilber. “This new development will obliterate that feel and once UMB is torn down, it is gone. It can’t be replaced.”
As for as the banking operation itself, that would move to a temporary site on West Washington under the current scenario. It would then move into the first floor retail of the Kirkwood Flats project by Spring 2022.
Proponents of the proposal say the plan is an indication that the city is prospering and continues to grow and evolve into a mid-county urban hub with larger projects starting to make their way into the downtown area. They cited the construction work on a new Performing Arts Center that will help create a unique theater scene for Kirkwood.