Binford group plots next steps in retail revival

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The commercial area at 71st Street and Binford Boulevard is recovering from the funk it had fallen into five years ago, but a true transformation hinges on whether area stakeholders can implement a master plan three years in the making.

The Binford Village Study focuses on the intersection of Graham Road and 71st Street just west of Binford Boulevard. It calls for transforming the area into a commercial and residential village that’s inviting to pedestrians. Planted medians, new sidewalks and buildngs that come right up to the sidewalk would change the character of the area, which is now a collection of retail centers fronted by acres of parking.

The plan is an effort of Binford Redevelopment and Growth, the group founded in 2005 to reverse the area’s decline. The demographics of surrounding residential areas were strong then as they are today, but the 1960s- and 1970s-era commercial strip centers along Binford Boulevard were losing tenants to development in newer suburbs.

BRAG’s purpose initially was to stop the bleeding, which it has done. Its efforts to market and beautify the area have coincided with an increase in the number of retail tenants at the intersection from about 20 five years ago to about 50 today, said Larry Riggle, a co-founder of BRAG who lives in the neighborhood.

The Binford Village Study is more ambitious than the rescue effort that BRAG started. It would involve loosening up zoning in the area to allow a mix of uses, from commercial to residential, and even envisions a transit hub for a future light rail line. The western boundary of the study area is the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority rail line, which is being studied for a light rail line between downtown and the northeast side. Transit hubs in other cities have been magnets for mixed-use development.

“We’re trying to make the BRAG area a destination,” Riggle said.

Schneider Corp., the consultant hired to work on the Binford Village Study, is expected to forward final recommendations to city planners in late January or early February. Those recommendations will be forwarded to representatives of the city’s departments of Public Works and Metropolitan Development, which have been part of the study process. That could lead to rezoning of property in 2010. Also next year, BRAG intends to have an engineering study done for sections of a pedestrian path that would extend east to west from Hague Road to Allisonville Road.

As the neighbors pursue their dream of a mixed-use village with a transit hub, the owners of commercial property in the area are making improvements that have reversed the neighborhood’s retail fortunes.

At the northwest corner of 71st and Binford, Donna Carr has pulled off the redevelopment of a retail center her late husband bought in the late 1960s. The center had fallen on hard times when the Carrs began talking to the Kroger Co. in 2004 about building a store there. Carr continued negotiating after her husband died in July 2006, and the Kroger-owned store opened in February of this year.

To accommodate Kroger, the Carrs had to buy land from an adjacent property owner and downsize their retail center, Binford Shoppes. It is now 25,000 square feet, a little less than half its original size. A façade improvement was finished last June, and the center is almost fully leased.

Across Binford Boulevard and south of 71st Street is another retail center that was bleeding tenants. Local developer Landmark Properties Inc. bought the property in 2003 and redeveloped it three years later. It reopened as Avalon Crossing in 2007. About 17,500 square feet are available in the 84,000-square-foot center.

The success of Avalon Crossing has caused the owner of a property a little further south on Binford Boulevard to invest in upgrades. The Pennsylvania-based owner of The Hawthorn Plaza retail and business center, at the northwest corner of 62nd and Binford, is about to begin a $100,000 façade reconstruction intended to make the center more competitive with its neighbors to the north, said Kara Riggle, a broker for Resource Commercial Real Estate, which was just hired to handle leasing at the center.

Riggle, the daughter of BRAG co-founder Larry Riggle, said about 25,000 square feet of the center’s more than 47,000 square feet of retail space is available. The $12 per square foot base rent her center charges is below the $15 to $20 charged at properties nine blocks north. Riggle said rents in the area have risen in spite of the recession because of the retail revival that has occurred there.

The area would get a boost from the multi-use zoning the Binford Village Study recommends, she said, but its fortunes would really soar if a transit stop is eventually located there.“It would be really big if light rail came through.”



  • transit DOA
    FYI the mayor's "transit committee" has concluded their study and the answer is... to kill the light rail conscept in favor of widening roads. The study is in the can. The deal is dead.
  • My 'Hood
    I live in this area and love what they have accomplished. A transit stop would be amazing, especially with midrise residential to further make the area truly a "village."

    HOWEVER, I think the group, although focused on Binford, should work to redevlop the "Millersville" area at 56th St, Kessler, Emerson and Fall Creek with the same enthusiam. That area is actually developed in a "village-mixed-use" manner now. Last month the long-standing Omailia's closed and is a major blow to the commerical vitality of that area. There are no sidewalks, yet its adjacent to the Fall Creek Greenway and the addition of landscaping, sidewalks, street trees, etc would make a huge improvement to that area. Hopefully BRAG has discussed this area too!
  • transit light rail stop
    The light rail line will be great for this proposed development. Being able to walk out of your front door and on to a train that takes you to your job downtown will definitely be a major attraction for the residential part of this development. Getting people to stop off and shop during their train ride back to fishers or noblesville could be a strong pull for commercial development.

    Of course, you can still drive there if you prefer.

    I look forward to many new development nodes popping up along this new light rail line (all contributing to the Indianapolis tax base, hopefully reversing many of the tax issues associated with the suburban flight of the middle class). It would be great to see the development nodes along College Ave. grow and be connected with a streetcar line to downtown also, but that is a different wish.
  • transit hub
    I live in the area.

    It just doesn't make sense (money or family time) for me to drive 5 miles north to catch the express from Fishers when its only 8 miles to downtown. I would LOVE an EXPRESS bus to downtown for commuting. That could start tomorrow without light rail!
  • Binford Update

    Attached is an article relating to the Binford Ave revitalization plans.


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  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

  2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

  3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

  4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

  5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.