Affton senior apartments see little opposition

By Gloria Lloyd
Staff Reporter

A large new apartment complex for senior citizens in Affton saw little opposition at a public hearing last week, unlike a U-Haul facility proposed at Show Me Lanes in Oakville that was up for public comment during the same hearing.
Indianapolis-based Herman & Kittle Properties is seeking to construct the Cottages on Gravois in Affton, a 74-unit senior apartment complex on 10 acres at 8363 Gravois Road and part of 8430 Gravois Road, which is an unused part of New Mt. Sinai Cemetery that currently serves as athletic fields for St. George Catholic Church.
The county Planning Commission conducted public hearings for both projects Jan. 22, where dozens of residents came out to oppose the new U-Haul facility, while only two objected to the senior apartment complex.
The developers of the Cottages on Gravois complex met with 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and incorporated his ideas into the development along with those of Affton Fire Protection District officials.
The largest building in the center of the 10-acre campus will look like one story from Gravois Road, but will have a walkout basement-style half of a second story on the back due to the grading in the part of the cemetery where the apartments would be built.
Herman & Kittle chose to design the buildings in the Craftsman architecture style to fit in with other buildings in Affton.
“This site was chosen specifically for the convenience to shopping and transportation,” said Brenda Haddad of Herman & Kittle. “It’s a nice area that I think a lot of families would like to buy into.”
Residents of the complex will have to be 55 years old, with no exceptions made for younger children or grandchildren. Rent will range from $692 to $1,400.
The plan calls for seven cottages with four one-bedroom apartments each, and four cottages with four two-bedroom apartments each.
The 54 one-bedroom apartments will be 778 square feet, and the 20 two-bedroom units will be 900 square feet.
The complex will also feature a pet park, community garden, computer lab, exercise room and community area where residents will be able to hold birthday parties and other events.
The company is new to Missouri but has been in business since 1946 and manages over 13,000 units in 16 states. The convenient Gravois location also comes with a challenge from the site that was once intended as a cemetery: Water service will have to be extended across Gravois Road.
The immediate appearance of the site along the street will not change, however, as the developer plans to keep the 5-foot wall lining Gravois. Residents will not have a traffic light to get into the complex. All the buildings besides the main one will be one story, including the garages.
For neighbor Marlene Maness, however, another development in an already congested area is too much. Her life has not been the same since the 24-hour Dirt Cheap expanded at 8445 Gravois Road.
“I do not want to see one more vehicle in that area, I’m exhausted,” she told the panel. “I have spent so many sleepless nights.”
Panel members questioned the developer about the seemingly low number of parking spaces, which is based on county requirements that mandate a lower number of parking spaces for senior complexes.
They also wondered about whether a detention pond that would back up to neighboring houses would hold water or empty out over time.