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The City Beat

New Development In Broad Ripple

Posted 11:42 AM by


Browning Investments is proposing an 88 Unit Apartment Building, perched mostly on over 30,000 sq. ft. of retail, and a parking garage, on the former Shell Gas Station site just north of Westfield & College, and also encompassing the current apartments located along the canal and to the north.


The immediate issue up for consideration is whether to rezone the property.  That issue comes before the MDC in early June, and primarily involves the specific Shell Station area, which is currently zoned residential, but is also the subject of an enforceable agreement with IDEM which prohibits it from being used for residential.  If it doesn’t get rezoned, it will simply remain an underutilized  (apparently Shell, who owns it doesn’t like the word “abandoned.”) forever.  Despite all the noise surrounding the project, that’s the only issue currently at hand, and the only issue that the Broad Ripple Village Association is being asked to evaluate.


That said, most of the noise around the project seems to relate to the size (and look) of the buildings, the proposed retail tenant, and of course, how the project gets financed, which now that there’s a TIF District in place that includes the area of this development, becomes the 900 pound gorilla in the room and thus seems to be drawing the most conversation despite the fact that it’s not formally being decided by any entity that has the power to decide it right now.  I’ll talk about that part in a little more detail further down, but right now, I’ll start with the other two issues.


The project, as noted, is pretty tall, starting with something about the height of the Fresh Market closest to College, and rising to about five stories further to the east.  Over the past six years, Broad Ripple has been the subject of an extensive process which began as “Envision” Broad Ripple, and evolved into a neighborhood master plan.  There were at least 60 different public meetings held to let the public weigh in on how the Village should evolve architecturally, over the coming decades,  Since I attended most of those meetings  (they usually involved free pizza from Union Jack’s, and UJ makes fabulous pizza) I know they were very well attended, and equally well publicized.  If you weren’t there, you made a conscious effort not to be there.


The consensus opinion that came out of those meetings, was that, folks wanted more “density” along College Avenue.  (Density is mostly urban planning lingo for height packed with people.)  The reasons given for that conclusion were that College was likely to evolve into a transit corridor (assuming State government ever realizes that State legislators from  rural areas aren’t the true governing body of Marion County), and, that Broad Ripple was going to be a lot more sustainable if more people lived there, as opposed to just driving there to tie one on weekend nights.   Under those assumptions, the proposed project actually fits pretty well.


As for the proposed retail tenant, which is Whole Foods  (perhaps the most leaked bit of information in Indiana history) the furor seems to relate to its impact on the Good Earth Natural Food Co., which is a couple of blocks away and, which has a storied history in the Village (not to mention being part of a somewhat larger story that deserves to be made into a major motion picture, but not until after Evan Bayh’s batteries run down).  Still, most of that noise began with those who run Good Earth, and people who argue against what they see as competition don’t always make the best point men for arguments.   Having been to Good Earth, and to other Whole Food stores, I tend to think there’s a place for both in the Village and that competition is aways good for the market,  (Having just said that, I’m a bit worried about impact on Fresh Market, which is a Meridian Kessler business that’s done very well and would have made a lousy Walgreen’s, so my free market instincts are as easily swayed as the next guy’s.  I’m also partial to the argument in favor of ‘local’ businesses, but I’m not sure either that we’ll ever see a ‘local’ grocery again, or that everything needs to fit that mold.).  It’s worth noting that there seems to be an agreement that if the super-secret Whole Foods doesn’t make it there, no future tenant could be larger than a third of the proposed retail space.   I like that part, because buildings always seem to out live their tenants, so it’s always important to concentrate on the building first.  (I wish we’d gotten a concession like that on Fresh Market, since on days I forget to clean my glasses, I think it already looks a little like a Walgreens)


OK, on to the money.  Browning is going to ask for money from the TIF, but it’s asking in a slightly different way.  Without totally boring you with how a TIF works, newly create property taxes from new construction (also known as the ‘increment’) flow into the TIF.  If nothing is built, nothing flows.  The money that’s in the TIF is used to spur the creation of other bright and shiny things in the district, which in an ideal world, gets ever brighter and ever shinier.  The noblest dreams of this particular TIF are that the least bright and shiny areas of the District receive the bulk of the increment.


Browning is asking, essentially, to take 80% of it’s increment, and use it to finance what it proposes to build.  The theological underpinning of that, which is why I’m starting there, is that Browning says it wouldn’t build anything without that arrangement, so if you don’t believe that, everything that follows is rubbish, and, conversely, if you do believe that, you also understand that if nothing gets built, nothing new flows into the TIF and less gets done for the less bright and shiny areas of the District.  


While the numbers are still sketchy, Browning noted that this is a $25 million project, which ought to mean that it will, also roughly, throw off $750K in property taxes annually, assuming cost and AV are close.  If 80% goes back to the project, that’s around $600K annually, which, depending on interest rates, ought to support a bond of at least half the project costs.  The remaining 20% that flows into the TIF should increase the Districts ability to bond for other projects somewhere in the range of one to two million.


A couple of closing thoughts.  If you had the misfortune to attend the BRVA informational meeting on this project, you saw both the best of neighborhood associations, and the worst of public discourse.  BRVA’s efforts to provide information are more than commendable, while the behavior of a good portion of those who attended the meeting makes you a little afraid to walk the streets of Broad Ripple during daylight hours, let alone after the bars close.


The Star’s reporting on the meeting was ridiculous.  While their web version features a video interview with a competing developer, who has been floating a similar project with similar tax breaks for at least six years, all without ever mentioning that tidbit of information,.  their lead quote in the print  version dealt with someone who lives about 3 blocks away, who’s supposedly worried that residents of the proposed apartments will be peering into his backyard.  At least with the blog reporting, you begin wit the assumption the writer is crazy, and of course, I am.


Comments (6)
City Beat Blogger wrote
FYI - the developer has agreed to a month's continuance of the zoning hearing (probably till mid-July), at the request of BRVA. BRVA ants to talk more about the size of the single retail tenant, the height of the structure, and the number of residential units provided. With the exception of demanding that there be no competition for existing neighborhood businesses, which is absurd, all of the major concerns of the neighborhood residents turned out to be concerns for BRVA itself. That's interesting, because if you listened to most of the blogging media, you'd assume that BRVA was the spawn of hell, when in fact its proven itself to be pretty reflective of the neighborhood as a whole.
Posted Jun 5 2013 12:21 PM
City Beat Blogger wrote
The only item discussed at the LUD meeting was the shell development. Consensus of the committee was to see the project go forward if revisions were made. Tom Healy, Gary Weaver and Lynn Levy volunteered to distill comments down to a list of possible commitments to present to the developer. The list was presented on Friday, May 31 at a meeting between Gary, Tom, me and the development team. The developer is reviewing the ideas which were generally well received. They also tentatively agreed to a 30 day continuance.The ideas discussed were:1) Create a more residential feel overall – especially along Carrollton and Canal sides. No parking garage, loading zone or dumpsters exposed.2) Enhance existing transit stop on College Ave. to integrate with IndyConnect Red Line plan3) Reduce height. Overall height can be 65′ with the understanding that the elevator shaft and stairwell can overrun by 1 story. Need a 4 story “feel” by making sure the 5th story is set back.4) 2nd story needed on College Ave. side to comply w/ EBR Plan.5) Project needs to improve how it interacts with the Canal – especially transparency as outlined in EBR Plan. Need to coordinate and collaborate w/ Citizens Water and its design work for this part of the Canal, esp. any upcoming public meetings.6) More residential units.7) More traditional scale and style of building (base-middle-top); not so contemporary looking8) OK with reduced parking9) Reduce square footage of single tenant to a maximum of 20,000 square feet.10) Specify green/sustainable features. NOTE: EPA reports that buildings account for 36%% of total energy use, 65% of electricity consumption and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Posted Jun 7 2013 12:32 PM
Say No to TIF Funds for Broad Ripple wrote
We Are All Sitting Ducks Unless You Come Out and SAY NO... http://www.facebook.com/SayNoToTifFundsForBroadRippleHere´s a link to a long article published in the Meridian/Kessler Neighborhood Association's blogs by their "city beat blogger." He closes with the words, "the writer is crazy, and of course, I am." Maybe he´s crazy ...but the article is well-written and well-thought out ...and WRONG.http://mkna.blogs.marketpath.com/the-city-beat/new-development-in-broad-rippleBut this kinda thinking is what we are all up against. We all need to gently correct this kind of thinking whenever and wherever we see it.As you read the post, keep asking yourself, "WTF is the Broad Ripple Village Association?" When it suits them, the BRVA is just a little neighborhood association that has no power to do anything!When it suits them, the BRVA is the all-powerful author of the future of Broad Ripple who has the ear of the Mayor and his City-County Council!When it suits the BRVA, they are your elected representatives even though you never voted for them.When it doesn´t suit them , well, you should have attended the meetings. There was yummy free pizza and everything!Folks, you can´t let the BRVA have it 8 ways to Sunday.CityBeat goes on to say that the people who attended the meetings of the BRVA (whoever THEY are!) agreed that there should be a giant Big-Box store with 88 apartments on top of it.They all agreed because the BRVA told them that Broad Ripple needed "density." Of course, they didn´t tell you that they have to demolish about 40 apartments ...in order to build an 88 apartment monster.Lemme ask you, "Why destroy about 40 apartments to get about 80 if you´re goal is more density?"Lemme answer that question for you ...the people who live in those 40 apartments are not the kind of people the BRVA wants. Those 40 apartments are middle-class at best. The 88 apartments will be full of people who are flush with cash while the rest of us have to tighten our belts.Our old friend, CityBeat closes with, "If you had the misfortune to attend the BRVA informational meeting on this project, you saw both the best of neighborhood associations, and the worst of public discourse."Ain´t that a shame? The BRVA meetings are only public ...when they ARE public. If the developers are meeting with the BRVA, you can´t go to them ...unless you PAY ...and maybe not even if you do pay their membership fee!But CityBeat thinks it's terrible that actual Broad Ripple people ...who didn´t even know that an unelected, self-appointed bunch of business marketers could even have any effect on the lives of those who live in and love Broad Ripple could even HOLD A VOTE OR MEETING on this ...he thinks that it is terrible that those people might raise some hell once they found out about it.Please. Raise more hell."One Person, One Vote," scares they holy hell out of these people."One Person, One Vote," is all we have against the flood of big money that wants to pour into Broad Ripple.Please stand up, please put your shoes and socks on,...call in sick for Thursday the 11th of July,...buy a freakin' T-shirt from Rudy at Good Earth so we can all show our solidarity......and let's show up at the C-C Building at 1pm...and let's find out if democracy really exists anymore in Indianapolis.Let´s find out.Let´s find out together.
Posted Jun 10 2013 5:58 AM
City Beat Blogger wrote
Everyone's entitled to an opinion, andI think it's worth noting that I didn't take a side. What everyone's not entitled to, fortunately, is to make up facts. So:1. BRVA is elected. If you didn't vote, vote next time.2. It's the owner of the current apartments who wants to sell them. People who currently live there must be the "kind of people" the owner wants, since he rents to them, and that's up to the owner, not to BRVA.3. We (people) do decide which businesses end up in Broad Ripple, or anywhere else. We do it by using our feet and our dollars where we choose. I'm sure Rudy's T-Shirts are beautiful, but he'd also much rather have more customers.4. BRVA does a pretty good job of letting residents know what they're thinking. If you take a look at their website, you'll see a list of what BRVA would like to see changed in the Browning proposal.5. Most folks on the BRVA would opine that BRVA has the ear of the City when it suits the City, not the reverse.6. Right now MDC is deciding zoning, not TIF funds.Have an opinion. Please have an opinion. All BRVA did was to host a meeting so the folks making a proposal could explain it. I suppose the alternative was not to have that meeting, and that's what, I think, you'd like a neighborhood association to do.
Posted Jun 10 2013 10:32 AM
City Beat Blogger wrote
Posted Jun 11 2013 5:28 PM
City Beat Blogger wrote
see the results of the BRVA survey here: http://brva.org/2013/06/shell-site-survey-results/
Posted Jun 12 2013 3:54 PM
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