Savoy Properties hit a home run on April 4 when the Kirkwood City Council approved a 14-unit condominium structure at the corner of Clay and Madison avenues.
Developer Savoy went for the long ball when he asked the council to change the zoning code to allow multi-family developments in areas zoned B-2 commercial. The code permitted apartments in “mixed use” developments in B-2 area – meaning the ground-floor would be occupied by retail tenants – but no all-residential structures.
The council initially balked at this request and, after a first reading March 7, continued a bill incorporating the request change to its April 4 meeting. After further deliberation on the city’s new downtown development plan, the council agreed Savoy’s change was reasonable, and approved the bill.
Slightly more problematic was the developer’s second request. Savoy’s John Pennington asked the council to ignore the city’s 40-foot height restriction on residential buildings in the downtown area (mixed-use buildings can go to 60 feet). He wanted his apartments-only structure to top-out at 49-1/2 feet. That would require a resolution approving the site plan for his apartment building.
To some council members, changing the height restriction was more of a problem than dispensing with the mixed-use only requirement.
“I really think we need to stick to the 40-foot height … It’s really going to tower over the other buildings in the area,” said Council Member Nancy Luetzow. “I don’t see any kind of measurable trade-offs that would possibly qualify for this sort of a modification of the code.”
Council Member Maggie Duwe agreed.
“I think if we keep stretching restrictions more and more, there’s no point in having them. I think 40 feet is ample. There is no reason – other than it’s being asked for – to go 10 feet over.”
Council Member Ellen Edman thought the 40-foot restriction was “becoming more and more negligible” given the fact that the council – literally just a few minutes before – had approved a bill allowing heights of up to 60 feet for mixed-use developments downtown.
“I think we really need people moving downtown,” Edman said, adding that this development could be a good way to achieve it. She cited the 12-unit mixed-use condo structure Savoy had built only a few feet away at Madison and Kirkwood Road, directly across from city hall.
That structure, which reaches 56 feet, has setbacks and other architectural features that provide it “some aesthetics, even though it’s large,” Edman said.
With Edman’s vote, Pennington had his home run. The council approved adopting Savoy’s site plan by a vote of 4-3, with Luetzow, Duwe and Council Member Kara Wurtz voting “no.”