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Brugge owners eye downtown buildings for brewery, eatery

January 10, 2012

Owners of Broad Ripple’s Brugge Brasserie want to bring a new restaurant concept to the Massachusetts Avenue district downtown, where they also plan to relocate the craft brewery that supplies beer to Brugge.

First, partners in the new venture need to win rezoning for two buildings just south of the intersection of Massachusetts and Park avenues, one of which they have already leased.

The partners recently leased the 9,325-square-foot building at the northwest corner of North Street and Park Avenue for the brewery, which it plans to move from Terre Haute. From the early 1950s until last March, the building housed The Tway Co., which sells industrial wire, rope and slings. The five-year lease includes options to extend the lease and an option to buy the building.

One of the partners in Brugge also intends to buy the building immediately to the north of the would-be brewery. That 3,600-square-foot building, at 608 N. Park, would house a 100-seat restaurant. The building, which dates to the 1800s, was formerly occupied by McDaniel & Co., which sells piping products.

Charlie Midgley said he intends to make an offer on the McDaniel property this week. He’s a partner in Brugge but doesn’t know if he’ll be an investor in REV, short for Rocket Epicurian Ventures LLC, the entity that will own the downtown venture. If he succeeds in buying the building, he’ll lease it to REV, which is owned by Ted Miller, Eli Schloss and Abraham Benrubi, all of whom are partners in Brugge.

Miller is working with local chef Greg Hardesty to develop a menu and new line of beers for the unnamed restaurant, which Miller said would have a wide range of prices and menu items. He described the menu as contemporary American and “an exploration of food and beer.” Hardesty also would be an investor in the restaurant.

Miller, who has been traveling to Terre Haute on a regular basis to run the brewery that supplies Brugge, said the goal of moving the brewery to Indianapolis kicked off the search for local real estate. The idea of opening another restaurant came second. “When we saw that site available, we thought, 'If we’re going into a more high-rent district we have to incorporate the restaurant concept.’”

Taking advantage of the trendy Mass Ave location presents some challenges for the partners, who have just started the process of lining up the support of neighbors who live close to the buildings.

REV is in the process of rezoning both properties from an industrial classification to a central business district commercial classification. It has also requested three variances, including one that would reduce the number of off-street parking spaces the brewery and restaurant must provide.

The investors propose providing 11 spaces in a lot at the west end of the brewery building, instead of the 44 spaces that would typically be required. Miller said the group is negotiating to secure more off-street parking in the immediate vicinity.

Because the project falls within the Chatham Arch Massachusetts Avenue historic district, the rezoning and variances will be heard by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. The requests are scheduled to be heard at IHPC’s Jan. 25 meeting. The rezoning portion of the request must also be approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission and the City-County Council.

Meg Purnsely, an architectural reviewer for IHPC, said there isn’t yet any organized opposition to the plan, but she’s heard from individuals who have expressed concern about parking, congestion and an outdoor seating area for the restaurant that would be adjacent to residences.

“We really want to be sensitive to neighbors’ concerns,” said Miller. “We’re going to be neighbors and we want them to be customers.” He said limiting the hours of the restaurant and an outdoor seating area is among the steps the partners are prepared to take to be sensitive to the concerns of neighbors.

Outreach efforts have been complicated by the timing of the proposal, Miller said. The Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association didn’t meet in December because of the holidays, for example. And the IHPC meeting where the case will be heard is being moved up one week to avoid Super Bowl conflicts.

If all goes as planned, the partners would like to have the brewery and restaurant open this spring.

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