Pittman plans for 'The Farm' at key Zionsville corner take root

July 16, 2013
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A $90 million mixed-use development proposed for a prominent Zionsville property sailed past its first hurdle Monday night, winning support from the Zionsville Plan Commission.

The board voted 6-0 to advance a rezoning request for The Farm at Zionsville to the Town Council, which could consider the project at its Aug. 5 meeting.

Developer Pittman Partners LLC wants to transform about 62-acres of land at the southwest corner of Michigan Road and Sycamore Street into a high-end commercial and residential hub. (Read IBJ’s May story on the project here.)

Partner Steve Pittman and a team of consultants laid out the project in a three-hour meeting that reflected the care they intend to take in creating a so-called Gateway District at the edge of the largely residential town.

The Pittman family has owned the residentially zoned land for more than three decades, and the current proposal emerged after years of work.

Plans call for up to 150,000 square feet of retail anchored by a specialty grocery store, plus offices and 400 attached housing units. Pittman’s tenant wish list also includes a breakfast spot, a brew pub and other specialty restaurants.

Six single-family “estate” homes are slated for 15 acres on the western edge of the property, where partner Chad Pittman already lives and the family shares a log cabin vacation home.

An eight-foot-wide trail is planned to provide “pedestrian circulation” through the development, Steve Pittman said, with a “connector” crossing Sycamore Street that could tie the project into Zionsville’s historic downtown to the west.

Connectivity is key, Plan Commission member Larry Jones said, urging the Pittman  to do more to encourage walkability on the site. A purely auto-centric development could divert business from downtown, he said.

Plan Commission Chairman Allan Rachles said officials reviewed correspondence from Zionsville residents who supported and opposed the project. Almost all of those who spoke at Monday’s public hearing, however, praised the plans.

Indianapolis attorney Greg Zubek was the primary dissenter, addressing the panel on behalf of client William Ferree, who lives on Sycamore Street across from the proposed development. Pittman’s plan is “sorely lacking in specificity,” he said, and doesn’t do enough to mitigate the impact on long-time homeowners on the north side of Sycamore.

Commission members peppered the Pittman team with questions, but ultimately agreed with town planning staff who said the proposal fits Zionsville’s long-term land-use plan.

The property is a “premiere gateway to the community, and we want it to be right,” Rachles said.

Pittman would not have carte blanche even if the Town Council approves the zoning change. The Plan Commission must approve specific development plans for the site, which would take shape over the next three to five years. 

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  • FYI
    Found interesting
  • The Farm adds much to Zionsville
    The Pittman's vision for The Farm will be a great gateway development at the entrance to the Zionsville community. Appears the Zionsville Plan Commission felt the same way. Good for them. Good for Zionsville.
  • Welcome Development
    I live just north of this area on Michigan Road and look forward to seeing this development come together. It would be nice (but prob cost prohibitive) if they could build a pedestrian tunnel under Sycamore (aka 116th street) to connect to the trail that leads to downtown Zionsville. There are a couple of curves in this road that could make it dangerous for pedestrians to cross. Overall I do think this will be a great development for the Zionsville area.
  • This is the best thing that could happen to Zionsville
    I am thrilled at the prospect of this ill-sited large-scale commercially intensive development being slammed into the face of everyone who drives on Michigan and Sycamore Roads. The inevitable disruption to traffic flow, and the loss of property values for those unfortunate enough to live nearby - especially those on the north side of Timber Ridge, whose homes will, in winter, look right into the dumpsters and loading zones of the stores - is exactly what is needed to, hopefully, totally destroy the quaint character of Zionsville and to finally(?) wake up the many in Zionsville who are asleep at the wheel and have elected Town Council members bent on destroying Zionsville, or at least turn it into another over-built, ill-planned, and under-funded mess like so many other formerly quaint towns and villages. This will be a Gateway development? What a crock! The Brick Street is, and should remain, the gateway to Zionsville. And as for the Pittmans caring about Zionsville, please! Where is my airsickness bag when I need it most? If they cared so much about Zionsville, there wouldn't be three foot high weeds all over their property and thriving in the many cracks in the sidewalk along Michigan Road.

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  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

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