Lux Living Pushes Into the Suburbs While Controversy Knocks
Lux Living, the developer who pursued a project at the Optimist site in the Central West End and the row of vacant buildings on Kingshighway at Oakland, and has proposed a revised project at the Engineers Site on Lindell, is now pushing into the St. Louis suburbs.
Two new projects, one that would replace a strip mall at 8800 Watson Road and the other that would replace the Motel 6 at the Dorsett Road and 270 exit in Maryland Heights, were proposed recently and both seem to be advancing in some form.
For example, the Crestwood project, which includes 276 apartment units, was recently granted preliminary approval by the Crestwood Board of Aldermen and seems to be on track for final approval at the planning and zoning commission. However, specifics about incentives are unclear but the Lindbergh School District opposed incentives to build the now canceled Crestwood City Center. If Lux were to seek incentives on their Crestwood project, I expect the request to be met with fierce opposition. The Crestwood project seemed to have flown under the radar and is likely what led to the project being advanced without much opposition.
In Maryland Heights, the project at the Motel 6 site, a 7-story, 260-unit development, is set to be reviewed for the first time at the Maryland Heights Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on August 9th. Planning staff says that the project complies with the comprehensive plan and current zoning but is not compliant with the required parking minimum. Staff has no clear recommendation on what direction to take the project at this time. Recommendations are either approve of the conceptual plan, approve with conditions, or deny the conceptual plan.
This project obtained support from the Deputy Chief of Police of Maryland Heights, Jamison White, who stated
"To be honest, the proposal of a high-end multi-story apartment building to replace the Motel 6 brings some excitement to the police department. We have seen the Motel 6 degrade considerably over the last fifteen years to the point of it not only being an eyesore to the community, but also the type of business that attracts a certain type of criminal element".
It is unclear if the project will be seeking tax incentives. If approved, this would be the second new apartment development built on Dorsett Road in recent years. The other was developed by Pier Property Group and is called the Flats at Dorsett Ridge.
Both projects are being designed by Hoefer Welker, an architecture firm based in Kansas City. Lux has experience working with Hoefer as the firm also designed their Port KC Riverfront and Katz on Main buildings in Kansas City.
Back in the City of St. Louis, Lux Living, and its affiliates, are under fire for failing to provide adequate maintenance at the Raphael Apartments in the Central West End and are under fire for comments I made regarding the Kingshighway and Oakland project. At the Raphael, last week's historic rainfall saw the building take on water and lead to water damage in the ceilings, walls, and on the floors. An electrical fire on the outside of the building, and water leaking through electrical lines does not make the residents of the building feel very safe. Coupled with faulty old elevators with crumbling floors, residents' confidence in having a clean and safe home in the city's showcase neighborhood is falling rapidly. Residents voiced their frustration in a recent Riverfront Times article and continue to post about their issues on the @RaphaelApts Twitter account.
In Kansas City, a battle over incentives for the PortKC Riverfront project led to that project being put in limbo after the PortKC Board voted, in May, to deny a 25-year tax abatement for that project after significant opposition from Kansas City Public Schools and KCTenants representatives. At this time, differing posts made to the KCRag Forum say the project was withdrawn after the tax incentive initiative failed this spring while new applications to CompassKC, an online portal for various subjects, indicate permits have been applied for. The difference in information has left a few people wondering what the deal is there and whether or not Lux dropped their incentive request for the 250-unit project.
While both situations are clearly different, social media users are linking the lack of maintenance at the Raphael and a leak in the parking garage at the Hudson as proof that management is unable to adequately keep properties maintained and operations running smoothly. Some residents have even complained that maintenance requests routinely go answered very much to their frustration.
Having worked for Lux Living, it surprises me that maintenance is apparently deferred for long periods of time while the pursuit of the new marches on. For a company as large and widespread as them, I understand the need to continue to expand through new buildings but there comes a time when a company needs to step back and take a look at what needs to be addressed if long term success is to be had. The pursuit for the new can continue, but major issues must always be, or at least attempted to be, addressed first.
There's a phrase that goes "quality over quantity". That should be more of a defined part of any multi-family developer's goal and mission rather than just a simple phrase, especially for Lux.