The future of a proposed parking garage in Broad Ripple is in jeopardy after a city zoning board on Tuesday denied a key variance developers sought to build the project.
Members of the board voted 5-0 to reject the variance that would have allowed Keystone Group to build the garage and retail development below the city’s recommended flood plain.
Though disappointed with the decision, Keystone President and CEO Ersal Ozdemir said the project could move forward without the variance.
“We’re going to assess our options and determine what our next step is,” he said.
A decision on the variance had been long awaited both by supporters and opponents of the project. Zoning board members had delayed a decision twice after Keystone requested more time to propose changes to the project.
Keystone had argued a levee system along White River would provide enough protection from floods, even though the parking garage would be built on property that lies four feet below the flood plain.
But the staff of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development recommended that the parking garage proposal be reworked in order to raise the first floor above the flood plain.
Keystone countered with a proposal to raise the elevation of the garage to two feet below the flood plain, which would meet federal guidelines but not city requirements.
Zoning board members shot down that proposal on Tuesday, even though Keystone pledged further commitments to ensure the project is protected by floods.
One of those involved raising the elevation to meet city requirements if federal regulators didn’t certify the levee’s construction before a certain time.
But opponents of the project wondered why Keystone needed to be prodded to take the integral step.
“If they can do it later, they can do it now,” said City-County Councilor Zach Adamson, who opposed the project.
Raising the elevation of the project would require it to be built on a steeper slope, destroying the pedestrian-friendliness of the garage and causing a loss of parking spaces, Ozdemir argued.
The $15 million, 350-space parking garage at 6280 N. College Ave. would be partially financed with $6.3 million from parking meter revenue, which would normally flow into city coffers.
“Since city funds are being used in this project, the city should take the lead and make sure its ordinances are being followed,” said neighborhood activist Pat Andrews.