The October 2021 meeting of the Forest Park Southeast Neighborhood Association took place on Zoom in order to hold the second community engagement session for Lux Living’s Kingshighway development proposal. Representatives from Lux Living were asked to respond to feedback and answer additional questions from Forest Park Southeast residents. Nominations were also made for individuals who seek to hold Board positions for the upcoming November, 2021 FPSE Board election.

Immediately following the meeting the Association held community discussions for residents to voice their reactions and thoughts about the meeting and proposal.

Below are meeting minutes, community discussion minutes, Zoom chat transcripts and the video from the meeting and discussion.

19 OCTOBER 2021 / 6:30 PM / Location: ZOOM (bit.ly/FPSENAZoom)

Reference the YouTube video recording to follow the minutes.

Minute 00:00 Meeting Called to Order (Dan Doelling)

  • This public meeting will be recorded for those not in attendance 
  • Apologies that October’s meeting was only available on Zoom; due to an unforeseen circumstance, Hot Java coffee house was not able to host our planned in-person meeting

Minute 01:23 FPSENA Business

  • 01:23 Budget started at roughly $2600 last month, with new expenses including Zoom and September’s National Night Out.  Previous month’s revenue was $200, and the Raffle brought in $195, so our ending budget is roughly $1600.  Treasurer’s report at forestparksoutheast.com
  • 02:02 Election of 2022 FPSENA Board Members is scheduled for next month’s FPSENA November meeting  
    • Nominations to be on the ballot are due by the end of October’s meeting. Eligible candidates must be a dues-paying member. 
    • FPSENA Members can vote in FPSENA Elections.  Membership Dues are “pay what you can” with a suggested donation of $10/person.  Pay with check, cash, or with Cash App to $FPSENA
    • We need volunteers for Election Committee; email us for info!   
  • 02:50 Call for 2022 Board Nominations
    • President: Dan Doelling self-nominated
    • Vice President: Michael Browning self-nominated
    • Treasurer: Rachel Siegert self-nominated
    • Secretary: Aaron Bisch self-nominated
    • Member-at-Large: JC Fick self-nominated
  • Please email us with ideas of how to connect with more neighbors

Minute 05:15 Tonight’s Community Discussion:
Lux Living’s proposed development on Kingshighway (the former Drury parcels).  

  • 06:18 Introductions to FPSENA (Mission, Bylaws, Board Members)
  • 09:16 Alderwoman Tina “Sweet-T” Pihl
    • Developers: Vic and Sid
    • Property management: Julie and Yvette
    • Architect: John
    • Traffic Engineer: Julie
    • Consultant: Chris
  • 10:44 Tonight’s Community Engagement Strategy
  • 13:34 Review & Respond to community concerns about proposed development:

14:08: Traffic Study

Lux reviewed 3 options for car access to their development: A) Garage access via alley, as required by current zoning. B) Garage access from Kingshighway at Oakland’s stoplight on the northern intersection. C) Garage access via the existing Oakland barricade at Kingshighway. Lux consulted Streets Department; determined both Option A and B are viable. Option C is not feasible. Lux’s current design uses Option A per existing zoning requirements.

17:39: Garage Access Option A)

Option A) Lux anticipates the additional “traffic during peak hours” resulting from their 144 apartments will be approximately 51 cars each morning, and 65 each afternoon, on Taylor Ave (via Arco & Gibson). This will increase traffic congestion on Manchester at Taylor and Kingshighway. This option is viable.

19:11: Garage Access Option B)

Option B) keeps traffic out of FPSE neighborhood. It would add an east lane on Kingshighway with direct garage access. Existing width can be restriped, without much impact on existing traffic. This option is viable.

20:06: Garage Access Option C)

Option C) which would allow access via existing barricade. However, this scenario was NOT found to be safe/feasible by Streets Department.

21:59: Parking

Lux’s plan follows the Form Based Code’s 1 parking spot per 1 unit requirement. Lux reports success with this model in other Lux developments.

25:44: Bus Stop

Bus stop may be relocated, in collaboration with Metro. Considering two options: 1) moving the bus stop slightly north of existing stop, or 2) moving it south of the Oakland signal. Anticipated to be less than 150-200 feet from current location.

29:30: During construction, where will contractors park?

Construction will begin with demolition and excavation, then two underground parking decks and the concrete podium of the building will be delivered and assembled (like legos using a crane). After garage is built, contractors will park inside the garage. They will access via Kingshighway.

31:55: Construction work hours

Traditional construction worker hours are 7am to 5pm, Mon-Fri.

34:13: Will Lux repairs any damages resulting from construction?

Yes, Lux will repair anything damaged during construction (such as roads / utilities)

35:04: What will happen to existing tenants in the properties purchased by Lux?

Renters living on Oakland and Arco in properties purchased by Lux from Drury had previously reported difficulty contacting Lux for property maintenance. Lux contacted those 5 tenants with month-to-month leases; most tenants are planning to vacate. Lux sold 9 parcels (including the occupied properties) to an unnamed local developer.

40:50: Will Lux Living provide management and maintenance of the development?

Lux Living plans to provide maintenance and management for the new development. Lux reports having good track record in other developments.

40:50: If/when will Lux sell the proposed development?

Lux Living does not report an immanent plan to sell the new development, but won’t make any promises. If Lux sells the development, they would only sell if offered “a lot of money” and therefore Lux anticipates any new owner would provide quality maintenance and management.

45:02: Owners of Lux Living have managed other properties under business names such as “City Wide” and “Asprient” which received critical reviews of management. How will Lux Living be different?

In a competitive market, Lux Living’s development will be of similar quality to market-rate, new construction in Central West End . Lux Living does not anticipate any significant maintenance problems in this new construction, while historic buildings tend to have more maintenance issues.

46:57: Was Bistro traffic and deliveries considered in the traffic study?

No. The bistro will be similar to a hotel lobby, primarily intended for residents of the building. The bistro will not be commercially leased. Nonresident access to the bistro is not a goal of the amenity.

50:54: Can non-residents access Bistro?

Yes. Attendants will allow access during operating hours.

52:11: Why this building height?

The plan fits the Form Based Code requirements. Economics requires the # of units and height. This development will immediately create tax income for the city.

54:27: Review of building renderings

Architect discusses some design changes to renderings, including brick color (to be red) and pattern (to include vertical areas), intended to better fit the surrounding neighborhood. Design will have no horizontal lap siding. All materials to be high quality (metal and brick).

*In video Lux Living came with and presented the wrong updated renderings.

59:50: Results of Sun/Shade study

Study shows how shade created by development will change throughout the day during June. Affected properties have been informed.

01:02:25: What about winter sun/shade study?

Not provided. Summer shade study is more important because daylight hours are shorter in winter. Ice melt on Kingshighway not studied.

01:07:31: Will bus stop remain open during construction? Can bus stop be improved?

Yes, it will remain open but may be moved somewhere in close proximity.

01:09:50: Will building contribute to neighborhood security? Will cameras be connected to existing Grove network?

Will collaborate will Park Central Development and the NSI. Other Lux developments have contributed to the camera network, and this development may as well.

01:11:10: AirBnB will be prohibited by a Drury deed restriction. How will Lux respond if renters do AirBnB? What happens if Lux sells to another owner?

Drury has discretion on how/when to enforce deed restriction against AirBnB; future owners would risk liability for allowing AirBnB. Lux Living will prohibit AirBnB in lease agreements.

01:14:44: Are building amenities accessible to neighborhood residents?

Other than bistro, no amenities will be open to other FPSE residents.

01:15:21: What will the rental price be?

Not provided. It will be market rate for the Central West End new construction.

01:16:30: Is it possible to include some affordable units?

No. This development is not receiving any incentives, it will be market rate.

01:17:35: How long will construction last?

18 months from the time ground is broken, including 6 months until the garage is complete.

01:18:35: How late will outdoor amenities be open, such as the pool deck?

Adjacent owners support the pool location. Pool hours will be regulated, expected M-Th 8-10pm, Weekends 8am-11pm. Security can address noise complaints.

01:20:57: Some people would prefer Kingshighway access to the parking garage, to reduce traffic jams on Taylor / Manchester, and due to pedestrian safety on alley.

Lux Living prefers alley access to parking garage because 1) no variance required, 2) easier for building residents to have entry/exit on alley, reduced backups in parking garage. If access was via Kingshighway, there would be different set-backs for the building, and a host of required variances.

01:20:57: Some people would prefer Kingshighway access to the parking garage, to reduce traffic jams on Taylor / Manchester, and due to pedestrian safety on alley.

Lux Living prefers alley access to parking garage because 1) no variance required, 2) easier for building residents to have entry/exit on alley, reduced backups in parking garage. If access was via Kingshighway, there would be different set-backs for the building, and a host of required variances.

01:28:00: Did the Lux traffic study use only existing traffic patterns, or did it take into consideration the hundreds of new apartment units currently being built south of Manchester?

No. Lux only conducted an “access assessment” study, not a traffic impact study.  Further, their research did not take into account the hundreds of other new apartment units currently being built south of Manchester.  The Lux Living Traffic Engineer could request, or create, a traffic impact study inclusive of expected traffic from the other new developments but did not promise to do this.  Traffic impact study may not be required of any single developments that expect fewer than 100 trips during peak hours (this development expects 50-60).

01:32:59: Will there be bicycle parking?

Yes, in the parking garage. Usually 30-50 spots in a building this size.

01:33:37: What will Lux Living’s next steps be?

Lux Living will wait to hear feedback from the neighbors. Their project manager will attend FPSENA meetings in the future. Will share the details of the parking/traffic study. Open to looking at Kingshighway parking garage entrance, and consulting with Zoning if recommended by neighborhood.

01:37:41 Alderwoman Tina Sweet-T Pihl:

  • Will review feedback and continue consultation with Lux Living
  • Submit additional feedback online at bit.ly/FPSENAxLUX 

01:39:00  Dan Doelling thanks participants for attending.  Residents were welcomed to stay on Zoom call to continue discussion after the meeting.  

01:40:00 Meeting adjourned

Start of community discussions

1:41:03: Dan Doelling: Please raise your hand if you wish you speak, we will go person by person

1:42:21 Catherine Nolan : A lot of us expressed real concerns about the impact that this building would have on the community. I get the feeling that they (Lux Living) are just brushing that off. Getting rid of the blighted buildings is good, but there are real concerns about what the building would do for the neighborhood, and Lux Living doesn’t seem to be giving those any concern

1:43:43 Julie B: Great job Dan! Question: Does Lux Living need anything from us to build this? Do we have any leverage?

Catherine N: No, is my understanding

Dan: Correct, they seem to be abiding my the form based code. The only thing stopping them at the moment is review with CRO for demolition. We are in contact with Meg from CRO who is listening to these meetings and taking our feedback into account. The demo permit was applied for in early September, and they have 45 (business) days to approve or deny

1:46:00 Julie B: Follow-up question: Is there a public process, or public input in the demo permit process?

Alderwoman Pihl: I can look into it. Your voices need to be vocal on what your needs are and the community input can be brought to the attention of the developers, and taking all of this information in is a lot and synthesizing that

1:47:00 Dan D: Question from the chat, can our blocks be made into residential parking only, would that fix the parking problem?

That’s a Park Central question, but it doesn’t quite solve the problem since there is no enforcement

1:47:42 Lucas G: Concern is that there are fewer parking spaces than beds, and no visitor parking. Suspects it will be on his block. It’s hard enough to park as it is. Also, two-way traffic in the alley with increased traffic will be an issue, especially with the dumpsters

1:48:40 Catherine N: I thought they talked last time about making another alley.

Dan: Their original proposal called for changing the alley

1:49:50 Stephen Beghany: If there are no variances being requested, we don’t have a lot of leverage. It seems that the biggest issue is the access to the building. Suggests that residents focus their feedback on this issue, try to get the access to be on Kingshighway instead of the alley

1:51:15 Tom: Why doesn’t Lux look at one of their buildings for traffic patterns instead of relying on outdated and non-specific numbers?

Dan D: That’s a reasonable ask

1:52:03 Michael Browning: Concerned about the quality of their buildings. Lux Living has a track record of cutting corners. Their new buildings are poor quality. In a few years, their building will be a detriment to the neighborhood, won’t be that nice.

Dan D: We tried asking for elaboration on the differences between the properties that they own under Asprient/CityWide and Lux Living and they didn’t really answer it

Catherine N: Well they don’t want to answer it. They already sold the Tribeca. It wasn’t even a year old when they sold it. And that was supposed to be one of their big landmark properties and it’s already unloaded

1:53:45 Mark Barnett: My concern is that we are dealing with a bad actor. We have heard that they are banned from buying at Home Depot because of bad practices. We’ve heard about their lawsuits. I have major concerns that they can present and talk nicely but I have a lack of trust

Dan D: Someone in the chat notes that they didn’t deal with the current tenants (in the Oakland and Arco properties) either. They are in the process of selling them to someone but didn’t take care of them for the longest time. Not to mention all of the other issues brought up with their tenants in their other properties, and they have sold two of their buildings so far

1:55:30 Alderwoman Pihl: In terms of Lux Living, when I was running for election, there were five individuals who approached me about an issue in their building. Their elevator wasn’t working. I pointed them towards some resources but I wasn’t an elected official at that time. I remember at the previous meeting, they haven’t said anything about touring their older properties. They are saying that they take care of their newer properties, but those will eventually be older properties, and I’m concerned that they won’t take care of them.

1:57:30: Question from Aaron Birch in the chat: What is the best use of these properties (pie in the sky) what would your dream be?

Ryan: wants an even denser development

Kerry: Affordable housing

Mary: A 3-story condo

1:59:00 Dan D: Lux Living is building a development in Kansas City along the riverfront and Kansas City passed an ordinance that required buildings of a certain size to have X number of affordable housing units. Affordable housing is definitely a larger concern that St. Louis needs to take up. Right now though, there’s nothing holding Lux to do affordable housing.

Catherine: Green Space

Dan D: People have no issue with the development but have issue with the track record of the developer Tracey: Prefers this building to Drury’s plan, but the traffic impact is a concern

Dan D: Traffic in that section is a big concern of a lot of people. People see day-to-day the traffic build up on Taylor Ave. The traffic study they provided was a national study, but studies from cities that have better public transportation may not translate to this development. A more neighborhood specific study. I’m going to stop talking about let other people talk. It’s not my meeting, it’s yours.

2:03:13 Dan shows the original proposal for the alleyway, but that plan isn’t in use anymore.

Dan D: so we’re all clear, the new proposal shows that the alley remains where it currently is. There is still concern about the bus stop located on Kingshighway. How would someone get off the bus? Then there are other concerns about a curbcut on Kingshighway, how that would effect pedestrian traffic

Catherine N: Basically it’s a lot of people in cars in a pretty small space

2:05:29 Q from the chat: What does transit-oriented development mean for Lux?

Dan D: That’s a great question to ask

2:06:02 Dan D: Tom had mentioned that the form-based code was supposed to reflect the neighborhood aesthetic, other people in the chat mentioned that it doesn’t need to be brick but should compliment the neighborhood around it. Dan D is asking what do people prefer?

2:07:55 Andre lives on the 4400 bock of Gibson. Lux mentioned selling the property at around $325,000 per unit, which would put the property around $50 million dollars. I’m struggling with how it’s not profitable to build something that is 30 or 40 units, which would still get you $10 million. Going for the plan that they are with five stories of wood, it’s basically a profit-maximizing approach where you don’t have to spend much money to build higher. Jamming as much as possible into as small of a space as possible. This is just their way to make a lot of money

Catherine N: Yeah and then sell it off to make more money

2:09:27 Dan D: Anyone else have any thoughts on that or the design?

2:09:45 Alderwoman Pihl: saw a question about fire trucks coming in and out. This is a wood beam building. We have seen on Lindell a new building that went up in flames.

Catherine N: If they didn’t have to get a variance for that, it must meet the requirements

2:11:00 Dan D checks the form-based code regarding podium buildings, brings up FBC on screen. Shows that this area is classified as Neighborhood Core. Building meets requirements

2:13:44 Percy Green III: Listening to a lot of the questions and comments about the building, wanted to say that these are good concerns. The big thing is the traffic, and the maintenance and upkeep of this building. Our weapon, if this thing should go through, is our alderperson. These people don’t uphold their promises, Sweet-T is the person that can address it and get it under control. That’s what we elect the alderperson for. We have a mechanism to keep these people in check if they don’t uphold what they said they were going to do.

2:16:09: Alderwoman Pihl: What Percy said is a good statement. As a community, you need to come to me. I can’t track everything. But in terms of construction, I think that things need to be outlined in detail before construction starts

2:16:55 Mark ? At this phase that we’re in now, what leverage, if any at all, does the community have on the design element, the number of units? Outside of the form-based code, is there something more that can be asked in this first phase?

Dan D: At the end of the meeting, it sounded like Vic wanted to hear from us: requests on how to change the proposal. Obviously there are limitations to what he can and can’t do.

Mark: It’s socially responsible, but there’s nothing there that holds them to anything.

Dan D: In the past, under Park Central Development, any developer that goes through them has to sign a good neighbor agreement. I’ve never seen what that document holds or how it’s enforced, but I think the bigger issue is things that the city need to consider. Alderpeople need to come together and agree on things like a tenant’s rights bill.

Mark: Having community and municipal oversight on development is beneficial. A Park Central-like group that could inform all of us

2:21:55 Alderwoman Pihl: Everything that they put into a plan for a development needs to be detailed and put into an agreement with the city and the community, and there are city staff that can be helpful in making some of these things compliant. If you see something that isn’t compliant, then that’s something that needs to be brought up with myself.

But in terms of the first phase, the feedback we’ve gotten should be used to mitigate some of the issues. I will be advocating for the needs of the community there

Catherine N: We just need to keep bringing stuff up, that’s all we can do

2:23:50 Richard Bose: I was trying to stay quiet because I don’t live in the neighborhood, but I thought you all would want to hear about our experience in Skinker-Debalivere, their three buildings here. Their construction sites were extremely messy. Typically they haven’t had much to demo, but in this case, these seven buildings, there is probably lead paint in those buildings. Stay on top of them, make sure they do it correctly. At some point, Lux had blocked the greenway, and someone raised a stink and we got a covered walkway. But I wonder if this proposal was in my neighborhood, would I be supportive? And I just don’t think so, their track record…Chelsea looks pretty nice, I’ve been inside, but how’s it going to age? I’m not sure. I’m not worried about traffic and parking, but with this developer in particular. Come over to Debalivere. What’s really got in my craw is their lawsuit, the Expo, it’s stalled the project which just means further delays and the sidewalks being closed. It’s negatively affecting our quality of life.

2:26:34 Catherine N: That’s a little discouraging

2:27:13 Dan D asks JC Fink if he is able to expand on that question about abatement

JC: More in regards to asbestos, when they are demo’ing, are they spraying down to make sure dust and debris are not a problem?

Alderwoman Pihl: There are laws about what they need to do.

2:28:19 Catherine N: Maybe we should end so that Dan can relax from this whole ordeal

Dan D: I want you all to have a chance to be heard. I feel awful that we had to turn people away from the door at Hot Java. Not in our control at all, but we tried to make this successful. I do need to walk my dog, but I will stay on as long as there are questions

CatherineN : I think it’s impressive that 70 people were logged in at one point, that shows that people are interested

Alderwoman Pihl: I want to thank the Neighborhood Association in terms of notifying residents about these meetings. This is a miraculous number of people. Really good community engagement. Thank you to the neighborhood association. Great job!

2:30:30 Dan D: There’s a link to a form in the chat, that survey goes directly to Sweet-T, so if you have any remaining question you can use that. We will do our best to consolidate the feedback from tonight. We will have recordings on our website.

Next meeting is November 16th, we’re having our elections.

You can view a recording of the meeting on YouTube below.

You can download a PDF of this month’s minutes below.

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You can download a PDF of the community discussion minutes below.

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You can download a PDF of the Zoom chat transcript below.

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