Commercial Real Estate and Local Government and Retail Development and Development/Redevelopment and Bars/Taverns and Government & Economic Development and Retail and Real Estate & Retail

Broad Ripple group doubles down in fight over Kilroy's

August 23, 2011

Members of the Broad Ripple Village Association are vowing to continue their fight against a new Kilroy's Bar n' Grill after they were denied a chance to speak out about the plan at a public hearing.

Several members of the neighborhood group attended a Marion County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing Aug. 16, expecting to remonstrate against a variance petition allowing Kilroy's to provide 46 parking spaces, fewer than the 119 required under city ordinances.

But at the last minute, an attorney for Kilroy's withdrew the variance petition, saying the owner instead planned to rely on a grandfathered 1987 variance for a restaurant called Wharfside that never opened. That variance allowed for 38 parking spaces.

The Kilroy's variance had earned the endorsement of the city's planning staff after the owner agreed to scale back an outdoor seating area from 4,800 square feet to 2,000 square feet, allowing for the preservation of more parking spaces.

The restaurant and bar plans to take the entire 7,750-square-foot building at 831 Broad Ripple Ave., which is now home to a Cardinal Fitness. It would be owned by Paul Murzyn, who also owns the downtown Indianapolis Kilroy's restaurant. The original Kilroy's is in Bloomington.

The last-minute maneuver—and the plans for the bar—don't sit well with the neighborhood group.

"The BRVA is investigating the validity of that 24-year-old variance, as it isn't clear that the 1987 variance would still be applicable today," BRVA Executive Director Sharon Butsch Freeland wrote in an email.

She said the group also plans to challenge the proposed restaurant and bar at a Marion County Alcoholic Beverage Board hearing Sept. 6.

Kilroy's land-use attorney, Matthew Price, a Bingham McHale partner, said he believes people will be more inclined to support the proposal once they know more about it.

"My sense is there's been a bit of a rush to judgment here," Price said. "We see it as very much like the other restaurants in the area that have received the support of the BRVA, like Barley Island and Brothers."

The new Kilroy's will be a nonsmoking facility and offer a full-service lunch and dinner menu similar to the downtown location, he said, unlike some of the restaurant's neighbors, which are "pure bars."

He said the new spot would "play to the nostalgia of the college experience in a more modern, adult interpretation."

He thinks some of the opposition may have less to do with Kilroy's, and more to do with the potential loss of Cardinal Fitness.

The sales pitch didn't sway the BRVA, which voted nearly unanimously to oppose it, said Jim Holland, an attorney in Broad Ripple and chair of the group's land-use and development committee.

The problem, he said, is Kilroy's will bring "more trash, more law enforcement needs, more strain on parking and other infrastructure."

"They're not bringing anything new to the table," Holland said. "Broad Ripple's at a tipping point for liquor licenses. We need retail. That Cardinal Fitness is exactly the kind of operation we need more of."

Luke Bosso, who works out at Cardinal, also doesn't want to see another bar, but not just because the plans would require his gym to shut down.

"I believe competition is a good thing. However, I do appreciate that enough is enough at a certain point," he wrote in an email. "Broad Ripple is not just one road with bars. Broad Ripple is a cultural area that has many other businesses. At some point, we have to understand that we can't keep oversaturating one area of Broad Ripple and continue to think that it will thrive."

A 350-space garage with first-floor retail, planned for the southwest corner of Broad Ripple and College avenues, should alleviate some of the parking pressure.

The city's planning department noted in a report that the new Kilroy's should not change the "intensity of automobile traffic" since most visitors in Broad Ripple "walk to multiple destinations."

"The outdoor seating would be in character with the pedestrian friendly, village atmosphere of the area," the report said.

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