Town Talk Features

A Renter’s Market

If you’ve driven through Clayton and environs recently, you couldn’t help but notice the flurry of building activity. Many of the projects are modern apartment communities with an eager supply of renters.

Are the new buildings targeting younger residents, parents with young families, retirees or people working for locally expanding companies? “The best answer to all of that is ‘yes,’” says Erica Garrity, regional marketing manager for The Laramar Group, a Denver-based real estate and property management firm. Her company will handle leasing for The Barton, a 229-unit apartment project under construction at the southwest corner of Ladue Road and Gay Avenue. It’s expected to open in early fall 2017. “We’ve definitely identified a need for new apartments in Clayton,” Garrity says. “Renters of all ages are interested in walkable, high-tech, mixed-use developments there.” In The Barton’s case, that means amenities such as a dog park, street-level retail and dining, and a fitness center with virtual workout instructors.

SF-Apartment-Opus_Clayton-North-Central

Clayton North Central Luxury Apartments will offer 120 units. Rendering courtesy of Opus Development Corp.

“When we bring new renters to an area, we know they want restaurants and nightlife,” Garrity says. They also want high-tech features such as bathroom vanity-mirror TVs and video front-door call boxes, she notes. And research showed that a very high percentage of potential renters “adamantly” want smoke-free living space, so The Barton will be entirely non-smoking, she adds.

The first question Claytonians will ask is, ‘What about parking?’ A garage is planned on the lower floors of the building, according to Garrity. “We’ve visited with businesses in the area and will have more meetings with them on how we can work together for everyone’s benefit,” she adds.

Gary Carter, Clayton’s director of economic development, says the city doesn’t anticipate significant traffic or parking problems as a result of the apartment communities. Traffic studies are required for each development, he says, to look at numbers of vehicles and peak driving hours. Appropriate changes are planned, such as new road signage, striping, signals and turn lanes. Carter says the city also hired a consultant for a parking study, which showed there was enough space in the area, but drivers needed better guidance to short- and long-term areas. Clayton also has added a new Passport Parking mobile app to help.

Joe Downs, vice president of real estate development at Opus Development Corp., agrees that a “wide mix” of tenants is showing interest in new Clayton apartments. At Central and Maryland avenues, his company is building a project tentatively named Clayton North Central Luxury Apartments. The 120-unit facility, scheduled for completion this summer, will feature street-level retail, secure lowerlevel parking, and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments. “We have tailored our unit sizes to draw a wide range of people,” Downs says.

“This kind of urban apartment lifestyle, a full mix of ‘live-work-play,’ has been striking a chord across the country,” he notes. “The location in Clayton is a bull’s-eye squarely located in the ‘Restaurant Row’ area. It has a great mix of nighttime activities, walkability to offices and access to public transportation.” That appeals not only to young professionals and families, but also to empty-nesters planning their retirement living, he adds.

Downs says his company was interested in the Central Avenue location even before Centene Corp. announced its $775 million campus expansion nearby. “The Centene project is icing on the cake for us in terms of bringing new people to the area,” he notes. “We looked at other potential sites, but the Central Avenue plot was always our top choice.”

Nearby Brentwood is set to get new apartments as well, says Lisa Koerkenmeier, the city’s planning and development director. Kansas City-based Garrison Development plans to build Metro on Manchester, an 80-apartment community with 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units at the northwest corner of Manchester and South Hanley roads. It’s close to key retail, including Brentwood Square and The Promenade at Brentwood.

“This location has been underutilized too long,” Koerkenmeier says of the plot, which used to house Burger King and Memphis Best Bar-B-Q restaurants. It later was earmarked for a new Truman Bank headquarters, but that plan fell through. “The city is eager to have this area of land be productive, attractive and an asset to the community,” Koerkenmeier says. “It has great visibility, and it’s one of the key entryways into our community and the Manchester corridor. I think it will be good for the city.”

Other nearby neighborhoods are adding apartment buildings to their skylines, too. The ultra-modern One Hundred Tower in the Central West End is slated to include 305 apartments. Opus’ 217-unit Citizen Park development is scheduled to open this spring, also in the Central West End. And the new, 281-unit EVO Apartments development in Richmond Heights began leasing at the end of 2016.

Pictured: The Barton will feature 229 apartments.
Rendering courtesy of The Laramar Group

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