Clayton Mayor Michelle Harris and the Board of Aldermen voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve a first reading of legislation to sell a city-owned parking lot at 8049 Forsyth Boulevard.
The proposal for the site, at the northeast corner of Forsyth and Brentwood boulevards, would allow for a minimum 13-story office building as the first phase of the Forsyth Point project.
Aldermen Joanne Boulton and Ira Berkowitz were opposed. A vote on final approval is set for Aug. 27.
Janet Watson, interim city manager, has told officials that the city had negotiated an agreement with 8027 Forsyth Acquisitions LLC to be the purchaser and developer of the property, at a price of $2,625,000.
The company proposes a building of about 166,000 square feet, which would include a 770-space parking garage and about 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, including an arts and entertainment venue.
If the new agreement is accepted, 8027 Forsyth Acquisitions, LLC would apply to the city for a planned unit development district designation for the project and would follow a normal site plan and architectural review process, she had said.
Scott Haley, with US Capital Development/8027 Forsyth Acquistions, has told the board and Harris that Barry-Wehmiller — a global supplier of engineering, consulting and manufacturing technology for the packaging, corrugating, sheeting and paper-converting industries — would be an owner of and major tenant in the new building, with a commitment of about 50,000 square feet on two floors.
Officials with Barry-Wehmiller have said that the company now has its headquarters in 100,000 square feet at 8020 Forsyth Blvd. The firm also leases more than 40,000 square feet at two other locations in Clayton – at 8301 Maryland Ave. and 8235 Forsyth Blvd. — and has about 340 employees in Clayton.
Boulton protested that the garage would likely be mostly empty for about two thirds of every day.
She also protested the high percentage of office use in what is set to be a “mixed use” building.
With the most recent requests for proposals dating to 2015, she suggested the city should go out again for RFPs for the site, “ because I don’t feel it’s right and transparent not to go out and find out what we’d get from (today’s) market.” She said a residential building would add more shoppers to the city, to benefit stores.
In opposing the plan, Berkowitz said he felt the property is probably worth $6 million to $12 million today — though Alderman Mark Winings insisted no proposal received by the city was even close to that figure four years ago, and all had requested significant tax abatement — and complained that no appraisal was done for the site.
“This corner is a prime piece of real estate in Clayton and would be a perfect place for a residential building,” Berkowitz said, adding that the city’s 2010 master plan suggests residential development near Shaw Park.