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Broad Ripple brokers propose office project on College Avenue

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A pair of commercial real estate brokers are proposing to tear down two rental homes they own in the 5900 block of North College Avenue to build a two-story office building .

Scott Lindenberg and Thomas Willey, who operate Reliant Partners Commercial Realty on Westfield Boulevard in Broad Ripple, say they plan to invest $1.5 million in the 5,700-square-foot project.

REW reliant office 15colpxThe $1.5 million, 5,700-square-foot office project would replace two rental homes at 5915 and 5925 N. College Ave. (Image courtesy Reliant Partners)

The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission is set to consider their plans Wednesday. The two already have received the blessing of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s development committee, which voted 10-1 to support the project.

“For us, building density and activity at key commercial nodes is an important part of the Envision Broad Ripple plan,” said Brooke Klejnot, executive director of the BRVA.

The two rental homes that would be torn down are at 5915 and 5925 N. College Ave., just north of the building that formerly housed Fox Studios and is now home to the Ambrosia restaurant and the Haus Love home décor and clothing store. Across the street is Binkley’s Kitchen & Bar.

Lindenberg and Willey bought the bungalows that they describe as “rough” last summer with the intent to redevelop the properties. They say they’ve alerted the tenants—one of whom plans to move out in March—of their plans.

“This is sort of a kick-off building for us,” Willey said. “We would like to do more [development], maybe up to a three-story multi-use project.”

But they’ve run into some resistance getting their first attempt off the ground.

The Metropolitan Development Commission’s hearing examiner last month recommended the MDC deny the project, citing concerns that additional commercial development along the College Avenue corridor will lead to the “overall detriment” of Broad Ripple.

 

The hearing examiner’s report pointed out that the potential exists for the two homes to be converted to commercial use without tearing them down.

The examiner's recommendation seems to be out of step with the priorities of Broad Ripple Village leadership, given that the Envision Broad Ripple plan endorses commercial activity at key intersections. The property is just north of Kessler Boulevard.

“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,” Klejnot said.

In the meantime, Lindenberg and Willey have altered their plans in hopes of improving the chances for approval.

They’ve scrapped a zoning change request for about 3,000 square feet of first-floor retail. They now are seeking zoning that would allow a retail use occupying up to 10 percent of the square footage, in this case 570 square feet. The two also have agreed to lower the height of the building by 8 inches, bringing it to between 22 and 23 feet, and to include more landscaping and a buffer in the form of a green wall of vegetation.

The changes seem to have appeased the Department of Metropolitan Development, which is recommending that MDC approve the project.

“When evaluated in its entirety, staff believes that the merits of this petition, as amended, would slightly outweigh the proposal’s drawbacks, unlike the request before the hearing examiner, which staff did not support,” DMD staff wrote a report.

Lindenberg and Willey’s Reliant Partners brokerage is temporarily located in Loftus Robinson’s new Rockdale development at 6334 Westfield Blvd. in Broad Ripple. If their project is approved and built, Lindenberg and Willey plan to move Reliant Partners to the new development.

“It’s an area we want to be in,” Lindenberg said of Broad Ripple. “We live in the area and we want to stay in the area.”

The architect on the project is locally based One 10 Studio.
 

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  • Way to go Scott L
    All the best Scott! Thank you for helping redevelop broad ripple! Organic, smart redevelopment like this, if continued will help keep the village relevant as new or renewing urban centers (CBD, Fountain SQ, Irv, Downtown Carmel and Fishers)compete for residents. Lastly, anyone who thinks there isn't demand for new office in midtown doesn't have a bead on the market. Sincerely, a growing business, located in Midtown who needs good, new office space! :)
  • Brooke Klejnot
    It is refreshing that Broad Ripple has a good leader like Brooke Klejnot, who is looking towards the future and not the past like so many others in leadership positions in Indianapolis.
  • Re: Mark
    Mark, you are correct, the specific language says "residential structures along this portion of the College Avenue corridor... should be preserved". However, there are very specific points about redevelopment and the key commercial nodes and requirements for new construction. How could any of this happen without demolition of existing buildings? There are not any vacant parcels in this area. There is clearly some conflicting language in the plan. This is why the plan needed interpretation, and Klejnot clearly interpreted it correctly while the MDC was short-sighted and denied it on a technicality.
  • NIMBYs
    Wow, it seems like NIMBYs have infested all levels of Indianapolis. Whenever someone wants to develop in an already urban setting, we shoot them down pretending that Indy is some tiny little village.
  • Great Project!
    Looks fantastic! Build it. And find another location and do it again. BTW: Thank you for investing in our community.
  • Hearing Examiner
    Actually, the hearing examiner's comments were quite cogent. The Envision BR plan calls for preserving, not demolishing the existing structures, in this "Critical Area 4". BRVA is violating their own plan by supporting this proposal. If anything is suburban in nature, it's the design of this building.
  • @Paul
    Agreed. The adjacent structures (north of Kessler) would be a good general example to follow and something I would get excited about. Reading "include more landscaping and a buffer in the form of a green wall of vegetation" unfortunately conjures visions of the AT&T offices just south of Kessler. Can't wait to see more details. While we're at it, this is an intersection that desperately, desperately needs some pedestrian improvements. Hopefully this development can bring new attention to this issue.
  • Improvement
    Always good to see something improve! Especially in Broad Ripple.
  • Site plan?
    Densification is good if designed appropriately. It might be helpful to see the parking layout and specifically the site's vehicular access from College Ave.
    • @Dave
      The space in the parking garage is better suited for a customer-facing business, where businesses pay a premium for the street frontage and visibility. The location at Winthrop is a potential, but not very large and may already be mostly occupied when it opens. This would be geared for a company who wants something a little quieter but still wants some brand visibility.
    • what ever...
      It's nice to see someone move to the Broad Ripple area from Carmel and invest in the area. I'm not excited about more commercial sprawl in residential areas. Many former homes along College north of Kessler are now businesses, and it is spreading east to homes on Broad Ripple Ave. This will just be the beginning of more proposal to develop and tear down homes in these "commercial" nodes.
    • Why ?
      While the project may be aesthetically pleasing, there is already lots of unoccupied new office space in Broad Ripple. There is plenty of space in the new parking garage - less than 2 blocks away. New offices going up at BR ave and Winthrop. I just don't see the demand.
      • Looks Great
        I think this will be a great addition to the area. While it's a very car-heavy intersection, it has some awesome cornerstones in Binkley's and Ambrosia.
      • Nice project
        This looks like a very nice project to me. Shame on the suburban-minded hearing examiner who recommended denial of this project. Indianapolis needs more projects like this!!
        • Rendering
          The rendering is posted now and is the featured photo on IBJ's web site.
        • Great Project
          This sounds like a good project for the location and a perfect fit. I'm sorry to see the decrease of retail at the first floor. Scott, any chance of getting a building elevation or rendering posted on here, maybe pictures of the existing two houses that would be demolished?

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