A sliver of land along Broad Ripple Avenue that for decades has housed a family business could hold the key to a plan to link the village with a nearby park.
Weaver’s Lawn & Garden Shop has been peddling plants from 1316 Broad Ripple Ave. for more than 50 years. But with just one family member, Tom Weaver, involved in regular operations, the three children of the founders decided to sell the property as part of an exit plan.
Bryan Chandler, a local real estate broker and developer, bought the land in August for $160,000, city records show.
How long the nursery remains in business is unclear. Tom Weaver could not be reached for comment, and Chandler said the lease agreement he has with Weaver is “open-ended.”
It’s a seasonal arrangement,” he said. “I think they’ll stay as long as I’ll have them.”
Weaver’s is closed for the winter season and is scheduled to reopen in April.
But even before Chandler scooped up the property, community leaders had been eyeing it as a potential connector between the village and Broad Ripple Park, which sits just east of Weaver’s along the White River.
The village’s master plan, Envision Broad Ripple, targets the property for recreational use but without getting so specific as to suggest any ideas for it. Some sort of boardwalk along the river seems to be the most popular choice.
“The way that it could connect the village and the park, and amplify the natural resources and recreation, the quality of life implications are very grand,” said Brooke Klejnot, executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association.
Prior to Chandler’s purchase, BRVA partnered with the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, the fundraising arm of Indy Parks, to attempt to buy the land. They were in the process of raising money from donors and were closing in on the asking price, unbeknownst to Chandler, when he bought it instead.
Neither Klejnot nor Lori Hazlett, director of the parks foundation, faults Chandler. In the meantime, they’ve began discussing the property’s future.
“We were almost there,” Hazlett said of their attempt to buy the land. “But Bryan didn’t know. He just wanted to grab that piece of land to save the green space.”
Said Klejnot: “We’re at the very, very beginning of understanding everyone’s goals. I don’t know what his plans are for it, but I do believe that there is the opportunity to collaborate and work together to realize the vision.”
Chandler, who said he has no immediate plans for the property, seems to be on board.
“Connecting the village to the park to Glendale would be wonderful,” he said. “It not only would link the Monon Trail but also the [Central Canal] towpath that goes downtown.”
Hazlett hopes to add the Weaver’s property to the city’s list of land but acknowledged challenges. The biggest obstacle is that the city hasn’t been buying any park land because it lacks the funds and resources to support the maintenance and upkeep.
“It’s still being talked about,” Hazlett said. “It’s just getting to that decision if [the city wants] to bring it into inventory.”