City delays decision on Broad Ripple project

October 2, 2013

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission delayed consideration on Wednesday of a zoning change for a controversial apartments-and-grocery project in Broad Ripple.

At its Wednesday afternoon meeting, the eight-member Commission was scheduled to hear a request from Browning Investments Inc. to rezone two acres at the northeast corner of College Avenue and the Central Canal to accommodate the project.

However, two of the Commission’s members—Scott Miller and Tim Ping—missed Wednesday’s meeting. Two more members—Diana Hamilton and Bill Selm—indicated they needed to leave early, putting the commission below its threshold for a quorum.

Preferring that the full commission render a decision, attorneys for both Browning and opponents of the project agreed to a continuance for the agenda item after the meeting began at 1 p.m. The next MDC meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16.

Browning's plans call for a 35,000-square-foot grocery—earmarked for a Whole Foods—and 104 apartments on the two-acre site, which currently includes a long-vacant Shell station that faces College Avenue, as well as several low-rise apartment buildings.

The rezoning would allow retail uses on the site. Browning also is requesting a variance of development standards for outdoor seating, some architectural elements, and to build fewer parking spaces than required for a project that size. The firm's plan calls for a four-story garage with 340 spaces.

Opponents of the project have focused on its large scale, relative to the rest of Broad Ripple Village, and that Whole Foods is a national chain.

Among the opponents is Rudy Nehrling, owner of the nearby Good Earth Natural Foods. He said he's not worried about competition from the organic grocery giant. He said his concern is that Broad Ripple is losing its village character.

Broad Ripple is becoming home to more bars and more national-chain businesses, he said. “I've had a lot of people tell me that would be it,” he said of the Whole Foods. “That would be the straw.”


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