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Broad Ripple apartment project gets preliminary approval

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Browning Investments’ controversial plan for a $25 million mixed-use development in Broad Ripple cleared its first hurdle Thursday, despite a strong showing from area business owners and residents opposing the project.

The local developer is seeking a zoning change and variances to redevelop the 2-acre property northeast of the intersection of College Avenue and the Central Canal. Browning has planned a 75-foot-tall apartment building for the site and a 33,500-square-foot grocery store, earmarked for a Whole Foods.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Development Commission’s hearing examiner, Rex Joseph, recommended approval of the changes. The MDC will consider the issue on Sept. 4.

Upon announcing his decision, Joseph said he wasn't sure what economic impact his decision would have on the neighborhood’s small businesses, but, “as you look around Broad Ripple, you don't see a lot of change.”

That no other firm has stepped forward with plans to redevelop the property, a portion of which contains a vacant Shell gas station, also swayed his decision.

Besides the retail component, Browning’s project would contain 104 apartment units and a four-story parking garage with 340 spaces.

About three dozen opponents appeared at the Thursday meeting, many of whom pleaded with Joseph to deny Browning’s requests.

Rudy Nehrling, owner of the organic Good Earth Natural Foods grocery, located just a few blocks away from Browning’s site, said he had collected more than 3,200 signatures opposing the project.

“The bottom line is that this project is too big for Broad Ripple Village,” Nehrling said.

He said he was more concerned about the additional traffic the development would bring to the area than he was about the competition he likely would face from a Whole Foods store.

Following Joseph’s recommendation, Browning Investments principal Jamie Browning said he was pleased with the outcome.

“The project will have a positive impact on Broad Ripple, and hopefully the process will move forward,” he said.

Construction could start next year.

   
 

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  • Wake up Broad Ripple
    "The bottom line is the project is too big for Broad Ripple village," wake up people and pay attention to the new form-based code that you just approved. UNREAL...
  • Downtown
    Can we get a Whole Foods Downtown please?
  • traffic
    I would love to see a Whole Foods come to BR.... but not if its going to make traffic worse than it already is. traffic in BR is terrible because everyone here embraces the idea that BR is a slow-paced, lazy village. cars drive way below the speed limit... probably because they are afraid of hitting the bikers, who make their own rules for the road, zipping around wherever they please... which is what bikers have to do to avoid hitting the walkers, as walkers in broad ripple feel they always have the right-of-way, regardless of what the cross-walk says. the parking garage construction is awful, cop cars line the middle of the street on fri/sat nights, parking is limited so most cars will circle the block at 2mph to wait for a spot to open up before they'd dare park outside the village and walk. getting in and out of broad ripple is challenging enough, the last thing we need is more slowpokes moving in and moseying around buying over-priced, organic groceries.
  • Pure Lunacy
    Traffic is bad and going to drive people away? It's going to end up a giant frat house? Good Earth is going to go out of business? Bike lanes adjacent to a major multi-use path are a bad thing? I have to say, I've fought in the land use arena for a decade now in Indy, and these same podunk arguments (or variations of them) have been thrown around for years. I'm so happy I'm moving out west next month. I will certainly not miss this place.
  • Greggers
    GregC: I sincerely hope that Broad Ripple changes – that’s why I eagerly welcome a high-end grocer and high-end apartments/condos. Why do you think Mass. Ave and Fountain Square are thriving? Not by keeping out up-scale projects and decrying development. BR has been sliding toward being nothing more than a collection of sleazy bars. Welcoming an upscale grocer and upscale housing is EXACTLY what the area needs to help preserve the artsy-village feel you claim to want.
  • Change is a comin
    I lived in Broad Ripple for nine years. I understand the residents not wanting to give up the quaint artsy village theyve known for decades and decades. Make no mistake, Broad Ripple will change. I predict it will not be recognizable five years after the mixed use project is completed, whwnever that is, if indeed it is approved and completed. (Which it will be because of the BIG GUNS of Browing Investments). The village is as unique and interesting as Mass Ave. or Irvington, or Fountain Square, which people have realy tried to preserve. Ripple lovers better get their fill. Someday dogs wont be allowed at Plumps, because Plumps wont be there.
    • yogi
      HarveyF and his whining ilk seem to have contracted Yogi Berra disease: “nobody goes to Broad Ripple anymore, it’s too crowded.”
    • Greg?!
      Greg's statement is too funny. The rent on these upscale kind of apartments will probably be more than most people's mortgage. Old Broad Ripple "townie's" are the most sheltered, bubble living people I have ever seen.
    • Yo Maria...
      you seem kind of 'dense' on the issue here and you obviously have no idea about population trends in the city...your laughter sounds kind of shallow as if it's generated from a hollow cranium
    • one thing...
      ...mot mentioned here is the fact that little Jamie Browning needs govt welfare to make his project 'economically feasible' (his own words)thus admitting that conservative Republicons LOVE govt handouts as long as it's going in THEIR pockets. As a 20+ year BR resident I can tell you this is an awful development and the traffic jams will get even worse, it's a daily challenge to plot ways to get in/ around the neighborhood and the addition of this corporate welfare-funded development will make things even worse. There is absolutely NO need for another Whole Foods when there is one literally 5 minutes up Westfield. The Brownings of this city prove that the govt is STILL corrupt and their $$$ in politicians' campaign coffers get them exactly what THEY want, and they don't give a flip what the residents/ citizens think as long as the rich developer gets his greedy little hands on MORE tax $$$
    • Re: Greg
      Greg, your comments in regards to renters are absurd. Lumping all renters into the category of 'frat boys' is very ignorant. In addition, you do realize that people can rent houses in Broad Ripple. Why aren't you up in arms about people that decide to rent their house out?
    • Frat? Really?
      Greg, renters can and do have an interest in their communities. The younger generation (read: me) doesn't feel the need to buy a permanent location for the long-term, and we've seen what "property values" are good for. But that doesn't mean we want to live in a pit. Renters want nice furnishings, good parks, proximity to necessities, and safe neighborhoods just like homeowners do. To say that all renters are frat boys is extremely ownist of you.
    • Bike Lanes
      I love how people keep blaming the traffic on the bike lane project. The only place BR Ave gets backed up is from Guilford to McDonalds. Most of that section doesn't even have a bike lane. The parts that have a bike lane (Monon east to Keystone) are always smooth sailing. The bottleneck is Broad Ripple Avenue itself. If you have an issue, take Kessler.
    • Competition?
      When did Good Earth start carrying fruits, veggies and fresh fish? When did Whole Foods start selling Birkenstocks?? I guess any PR is good PR. Congrats to Rudy on making his store relevant!
    • Frat House
      I addition to the traffic that is often backed up from Keystone to west of Primrose and from College east of Evanston my big concern is the apartments. Apartment dwellers have zero ownership in a community, especially one like Broad Ripple. The new complex is destined to become one huge frat house. The people who rent there will be in Broad Ripple for one reason only; to party. Property crimes are likely to increase as are other crimes. The renters will have their fun for a couple years and move to Fishers or out of state. Broad Ripple is a unique part of the city that developers want to make just like any other part of Carmel, Fishers, Avon etc. Condos don't do well in BR either, just ask the Kosenes and Gunstra. I expect to be called a NIMBY, but those in favor of this don't live here and shouldn't really have a say. I know someone affiliated with Sheehan that thinks this is the best thing ever. No doubt he stands to gain financially. When I asked him if he wanted this in his neighborhood, he refused to even answer the question. Yes, the Shell station is an eyesore, but this isn't the answer.
    • Hooray!
      Best news I've heard in a long time. What a boost this could be for Broad Ripple. One likely benefit not mentioned so far is the trickle-down improvement that (hopefully) would occur on the opposite side of BR Ave. Those shabby storefronts and the awful-looking metal sheeting on the building give such a terrible, run-down first impression. Pray that this far-sighted project goes through.
    • Whole Foods
      I live in Bloomington and we will take your Whole Foods. Wish we had one but there wouldn't be enough business in the summer to keep it going once the students left town.
    • David
      I haved lived in Meridian Kessler for pretty much my whole life and think the project is an excellent choice. Though, I shop a lot at the Fresh Market (54th and College) and worry that Whole Foods will kill it. I am guessing that I will go to Whole Foods some, because a lot of their items are cheaper and they have a bigger and better selection. So, I guess the Fresh Market will just have to step up their game. Also, I wish the Whole Foods could have taken over older Kroger at 6220 Guilford and built a parking garage there. A Garage there is more centrally located for all the other businesses. Though, probably not enough space, too much traffice for that tiny street and too close to residential. Bottom line is that Whole Foods will attract middle and upper class spenders which is good.
    • Gridlock
      BR Ave and College were at near gridlock rush hour on Monday. Figuring that terrible traffic will keep visitors away isn't rocket science. Much of the traffic thru BR is commuters, thru traffic, deliveries, school related, etc., etc. It's not all BR shoppers.
      • Re: Paul O.
        I totally agree. I drive all over Indy and live near BR. My partner and I will do anything to avoid driving through the main streets around BR and cut through neighborhoods religiously. The new bike lanes made traffic so much worse and seemed like a horrible idea from the get-go.
      • Glad this is moving forward
        Longtime Brip resident and totally support this project. Great addition to the area. Traffic at this intersection is only slow at rush hour in the evening. That's called living in a city. If you don't expect any traffic ever, try the suburbs or a small town. This would be a welcome and coveted development in nearly every community in this country. communities like Broadripple beg businesses like Whole Food to invest in their area and yes, they do offer incentives. Looking forward to having the option of shopping at Whole Foods and the other retailers that will likely follow.
      • FUD
        I support this. I live in Broad Ripple. I am not involved with the BRVA. I am not on Browning payroll. Paul, stop spreading FUD.
      • Traffic
        Maria, I drive all over the city. One of the worst areas in the city for driving is Broad Ripple. Driving down Broad Ripple Avenue from College to Keystone takes forever. The removal of two traffic lanes for bike lanes was beyond idiotic. The intersection at the three avenues (Broad Ripple, Westfield and College) is a dreadful mess. Try going just south of Broad Ripple Avenue and you will see cars driving through residential neighborhoods to avoid Broad Ripple Avenue. Why not ask those people if they appreciate the extra traffic in their neighborhoods? Not one of the pro-Browning posters has even mentioned that Browning and Whole Foods is doing this with our tax dollars. Not a surprise. These pro-Browning comments are obviously an orchestrated PR effort. IBJ allows anonymous comments. The Star though makes people log in through their Facebook page. In the Star forum, the number of anti-Browning development far outweighs those who support it. Even the Broad Ripple Village Association, which is nothing more than a pro-development organization that cares little about the people who live and work in Broad Ripple, polled and found the public didn't support the project. This is all about a politically-connected company making money off of the taxpayers.
        • re: HarveyF
          HarveyF, you can't have it both ways. You clain that traffic is so bad that its driving people away. Yet, if people are staying away from Broad Ripple, how is traffic "so bad"????
        • Re: Paul Ogden
          "Traffic is horrible in Broad Ripple"??? You have got to be kidding me. I drive through the intersection of Broad Ripple Ave and College multiple times every day, including during morning and evening rush hour. Anyone who thinks traffic is bad there is being dishonest.
          • Don't get it
            I never said I was in favor of leaving the existing gas station in place. Obviously the PR effort here is going strong. I drove thru Broad Ripple the last three days and traffic was not good. People aren't going to ride bikes because motorized traffic is heavy. Broad Ripple relies on people from the outside coming in and spending money. Combine the new traffic difficulties thanks to the bike lanes with the high parking fees and people will find other options. That's one of the problems. The other problem is that Broad Ripple will begin to lose its Village characteristic with this project and the new parking garage. Let a project like this in that requires re-zoning, (yes, remember according to existing zoning this project is NOT allowed)and the rest of the Village will be at risk. I truly doubt that this will be the end of redevelopment of Broad Ripple. Once the TIF money starts flowing there will be deals proposed that cannot be refused. Broad Ripple's location makes developers lick their chops and they won't be stopped by citizens as long as government is on board. Look at Chicago, Carmel and CA when it comes to redevelopment and the corruption that TIF brings in. You've been warned. Sure, something needed to be done on that corner, preferably within the existing zoning of the property and that which would benefit the community as a whole.
          • Great news.
            As a long time Broad Ripple resident, I'm thrilled to have a business that is not a bar coming to the neighborhood. This will improve the quality of life in the village and get rid of an unsightly eye sore in the abandoned gas station. Traffic in Broad Ripple is not bad. If you don't like it, ride your bike or walk more. Exercise is good for you and the environment.
          • Congrats
            Great Comments Danny. I am a long time resident as well and see this as a great addition to the villiage. I found it very funny to see people with signs saying 'Keep BR loca' in front of a Shell Station that has been closed for years and yes, is a Dutch multi-national company.
          • Thank you!
            Harvey F: it was fun while it lasted? Really? An abandoned, graffiti marred gas station and an ugly, outdated, down-market apartment building were “great fun”? What sort of drugs are you on? I am so happy that a Whole Foods store and an upscale apartment building are finally being built in BR. It’s about time!!!
          • Great Addition
            I have owned property and lived near Broad Ripple for over 30 years...and this is a great example of a project that will improve the quality of life in the area, not detract from it. More amenities for local residents is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing...and if anything. Whole Foods in that location will hurt Fresh Market at 54th & College more than the Good Earth store. Congratulations to Browning Investments if you can pull this off--not just working through the zoning process respite with the normal remonstrators common to any new progress/development in the area, but just as important by attracting Whole Foods to the neighborhood--which is a much sought-after retailer and one which will be embraced by 99% of the area residents if they open there. Good luck in getting this done.
            • Project stinks
              I can already smell it...........
            • Whole Foods
              Whole Foods is in the process of expanding and remodeling the Nora location and they are not closing it. The Broad Ripple location will serve those in the village and the wealthy Meridian Kessler neighborhoods. Whole Foods has been wanting to add a couple of more stores in the Indianapolis area, and one in and around Broad Ripple has been their main objective for some time.
            • Really?
              At least Nehrling could try to be intellectually honest. Of course this is about the potential harm to his business. That is fine by the way. You should try to protect your business. You are coming across as disingenious with the whole traffic thing. I don't get why Whole Foods would want to locate here? They must be planning to close Nora? The locations would otherwise be too close to each other.
            • Progress
              Excited about this project moving forward. I drive through the 62nd street/College intersection every day, twice. I maybe wait through one light cycle at rush hour in the evening, that's not horrible traffic! And if Good Earth isn't concerned about the competition, wouldn't a small business owner who relies on a large quantity of small ticket item sales welcome increased traffic to the area?
            • Get real!
              "Traffic is horrible in Broad Ripple"? What world are you living in? I drive through BR nearly every day and I never sit through more than one traffic light cycle, as I do at many intersections in town. Broad Ripple is not a sleepy little suburban village! It is part of the urban core and this project is totally appropriate.
            • Common Sense
              I am glad to see the proposed project to move forward. While some may be skeptical I am sure once built it will be a welcome addition to the community.
            • Good news
              I'm happy to see this moving forward. I sympathize with the NIMBY crowd - Browning has been extremely rude and patronizing to local residents - l but the NIMBYs just didn't have any strong arguments or realistic vision. To the other comments - I disagree that traffic on this corner of BR is bad by any measure. I live here, and drive (and bike and walk) through the intersection in question all the time. Traffic backs up on Broad Ripple Avenue to the east - but that's definitely worth it to keep the village pedestrian and bicycle friendly. I believe Broad Ripple *does* need more density. Even though 100 units on this corner is not my preference, it will be good for BR.
            • Denisty?
              The last thing Broad Ripple needs is more "density." Traffic is horrible in Broad Ripple. Traffic is particularly horrible at the intersection near that development. Let's not forget Browning and Whole Foods are doing this development with our tax dollars. People can complain about Good Earth fighting this for selfish reasons, but the fact is it is not a level playing field. Whole Foods is using our tax dollars while Good Earth is not.
              • Oh Well...
                It was great fun while it lasted. It was a great run. Welcome to the new look of Broad Ripple. This is only the beginning, I fear.
                • Oh Rudy
                  "He said he was more concerned about the additional traffic the development would bring to the area than he was about the competition he likely would face from a Whole Foods store." HAHAHA, complete BS. We all know why you're opposed to this project.
                  • Great news
                    Great news for the Broad Ripple area and Indianapolis in general. We need more dense, quality like this one to turn back the tide of the massive population decilines the old city of Indianapolis has experienced.

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                  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

                  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

                  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

                  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

                  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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