A controversial plan to demolish two homes along North College Avenue in Broad Ripple to make way for a two-story office building has been thrown a lifeline in a bizarre, procedural twist.
Members of the Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday voted 5-3 to reject the proposal from Scott Lindenberg and Thomas Willey, who operate Reliant Partners Commercial Realty on Westfield Boulevard.
The pair had planned to invest $1.5 million in the 5,700-square-foot proposal.
But the Department of Metropolitan Development has announced that another vote on the project will be taken March 19.
That’s because MDC member Bruce Schumacher looked as though he marked both the “yes” and “no” boxes when a part of his signature on the ballot spilled into the "no" box, causing the MDC's secretary to misread his ballot, DMD said. His vote changes the tally to a 4-4 tie, requiring the petition to be reheard.
“We just feel appreciative that we have another opportunity to be heard again,” Lindenberg said.
Their proposal to demolish the aging bungalows at 5915 and 5925 N. College Ave. already has sparked contentious debate among residents in the neighborhood.
One of the more outspoken critics of the redevelopment is Clare Fox, who owns the commercial building at 5901 N. College Ave., immediately south of the homes. Fox operated Fox Studios there for 33 years until it closed in July.
“The Envision [Broad Ripple] plan calls Kessler and College a gateway to the Broad Ripple Village that should speak to the village character,” she told commission members Wednesday. “These homes are an integral part of that village character. The proposed building is not.”
The Broad Ripple Village Association’s development committee had voted 10-1 to support the project, believing the two homes were close enough to commercial activity to be sacrificed.
“Our interpretation [of Envision Broad Ripple] is that a commercial node should be treated differently than mid-block residential areas, particularly on these arteries that have potential for mass transit,” Brooke Klejnot, executive director of the BRVA, told IBJ before the commission’s vote.