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Broad Ripple Village awaits garage bids

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Residents and patrons of Broad Ripple have been talking for 20 years about the need for a parking garage to ease the area’s traffic tensions.

This month, the city expects to receive several proposals for building one.

garage The city wants a new Broad Ripple parking garage to accommodate mixed uses and at least 300 spaces. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

City leaders in February put out a request seeking ideas of how to design and finance a parking garage in the popular entertainment district about seven miles north of downtown. Responses are due March 11.

The city has just a few criteria for the projects. The structure must include a mixed-use component—ranging from a hotel to retail or residential space—and it must be large enough to accommodate at least 300 parking spaces.

Constructing a garage of that size would run into the millions of dollars—a cost city officials acknowledge they might have to subsidize. The amount of the subsidy, where the garage would be built, and other details would depend on what developers propose.

“The idea is just to spur it,” said Kurt Fullbeck, a project manager with the Indianapolis Bond Bank who is overseeing the request-for-qualifications process. “It’s to get people to move in getting a garage built or a mixed-use facility.”

City officials haven’t set a time line for building because it will depend on the scope of responses they receive and what’s in them. But Fullbeck said they want to move as quickly as possible.

Once the bids are submitted, they’re sealed until the city’s selection committee, which includes a pair of Broad Ripple neighborhood leaders, chooses a concept.

Ongoing debate

Parking has long been a point of contention in Broad Ripple.

The dense area of restaurants, bars and shops provides few parking options for its many weekend visitors. There are a handful of private lots, which charge a fee, and the nearby neighborhood streets, which some say pose a safety risk for patrons returning to their cars late at night.

At times, the limited parking caused such tension among neighborhood residents that they’ve resisted new development in the area for fear it would exacerbate the problem.

“There were literally developers avoiding doing things in Broad Ripple because the process was combative,” said Ryan Vaughn, the City-County Council president whose district includes the neighborhood.

“The citizens who lived and worked there couldn’t provide the services needed because of the parking. We needed to find a way to cure this parking problem in order to get people excited about investing in Broad Ripple and make it more of a welcome village feel.”

In the last few years, the Broad Ripple Village Association, the area’s neighborhood group, revived discussions about how to address the problem. The association also commissioned a study to determine how many spaces were needed to serve the area, which resulted in the baseline of 300 the city included in its request.

Even with strong demand for parking, the challenge was always finding a way to make the garage work financially, said Elizabeth Marshall, past president of the village association who has been heavily involved in parking discussions.

Parking garages are expensive to build, with each space averaging about $13,000. Revenue from the operation, some say, wouldn’t be strong enough to offset those costs.

So when Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration began talking about a broader overhaul of the city’s parking, Broad Ripple advocates saw an opening to promote their cause.

The city’s larger parking deal includes a 50-year lease of meters in downtown and Broad Ripple to Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc., in exchange for $20 million upfront and an estimated $363 million to $620 million in meter revenue over the life of the deal.

Other changes—such as increased meter rates, longer hours and new meters that accept credit-card payments—are beginning to be implemented this month.

Meanwhile, money from the deal—along, potentially, with other funds such as the money from the sale of the city’s water and sewer utilities—could help subsidize building costs, though city leaders say they’re looking for proposals that maximize private investment.

“Obviously, the best scenario would be a private developer figuring out how to build a garage without any support from the city,” said Michael Huber, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development.

Once the garage is built, the city plans to implement permit-only parking in the nearby neighborhoods. Eliminating visitor parking in those areas, Marshall said, will help drive demand for the garage space.

Keeping it ‘village’

The location of the garage would depend on what private land is available. Those familiar with the area say it will need to be in a spot that provides easy access to Broad Ripple Avenue, the district’s main drag.

Possibilities include two lots that now house abandoned gas stations. Both are on College Avenue, one a bit north of the Broad Ripple intersection and the other just south of it.

The area behind the Vogue nightclub and space near the Riviera Building on Westfield Boulevard also have been floated. Those ideas are based on preliminary discussions between developers and landowners, Marshall said.

Location would be key to determining what kind of use is incorporated into the garage, said Gerry Kosene, a partner with Indianapolis-based Kosene & Kosene developers, which manage several retail and residential properties in the neighborhood.

He sees a need for general office space and housing that would be affordable for those who work at the restaurants and shops in the area.

The neighborhood already has an abundance of middle-income housing to own and rent, as well as retail.

“Broad Ripple doesn’t need a lot of new retail space at this time,” Kosene said. “There’s certainly room for growth, but not an extraordinary amount is needed.”

Residents and area business owners want to ensure that whatever mixed-use component goes into the space camouflages the parking area.

“While we need several hundred parking spaces, we don’t want people to drive down the street and say, ‘Oh look, there’s a parking garage,’” Marshall said. “We want to have the character of a village. That’s one of the most important things that we as an association need to help preserve.”

Some have raised concerns—in Broad Ripple and elsewhere—that increasing the cost for parking could cause people to bypass the area for shopping districts with free parking.

But Vaughn said that’s already happening. He thinks providing a place to park will create an incentive for people to stay.

“It’s very difficult to park in Broad Ripple now and not pay to park,” Vaughn said. “The only place to park free is in neighborhoods, and we have a public safety issue in neighborhoods late at night.”•

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  • You call that vibrant?
    If what goes on in BR is vibrant ....."pulsating with vigor and energy".....I quess the trash, noise, crime, and loss of the village feel is progress.... my take is BR has lost the once cool vibe and has turn into the lame circus with little redeeming value ..... oh well.... time marches on........have fun
  • Change in attitude
    My comment was not only addressed at BR but also DT. DT was redeveloped as a suburban visitation spot filled with parking, cheap parking at that. This has led to many undervalued parcels of land and distances that are tough to walk because of the reduced density. BR is still very neighborhood centric. If small pieces between the hoods and BR Ave are turned into parking this feeling will be lost. Walking from home to store will be more difficult and the urban experience will vanish. My earlier post encited a garage with groud level retail as a minimum, but turning everything to parking is not the answer. This is something that needs to be addressed region wide not just BR, but a rail line along college and cross town busses could serve us well and reduce the need for parking.
  • Hey! This is my neighborhood!
    The parking garage plus (plus apartment/condos, plus retail, plus office space) is just what we need. I hope 'the kids' keep coming to BR forever! I hope young people keep buying houses in the area. I'm 55 years old; I have been coming to BR for 40 years and now live there. It's the only place in town that you can actually walk to the store/restaurant/barber shop from your house. YES build the parking garage, the sooner the better! PS - I love the Mayor, how did we get so lucky (again)?
    • BR needs this
      Joe - You say that BR needs a "change in attitude." How do you plan on changing the attitude of the thousands of people who flock to BR on a weekly basis? Until you can come up with a solid answer, I suggest that a parking garage (mixed use development) is the best option. There is a need and it should be addressed.

      Kilo22 - The parking garage will decrease the opportunities for the "nitwits" who perpetrate the crimes you speak of. If most of the "non-local" parking is centralized into a well-lit, nearby area, folks won't have to walk back to their cars down on 61st street on poorly lit Guilford. You also say BR has lost the "village" feel and become a circus? That circus is what keeps this area of Indy thriving, like it or not. The young demographic that visits BR is what keeps our area vibrant - you get older but the Butler students stay the same age.
      • Welcome to BR, now go home
        no more parking....reduce the volume and send home the nitwits that have created the crime problems over the last 15+ yrs....BR has lost the village feel and has become a circus
      • parking
        If they choose the spot just south of BR Ave (ex Marathon gas station), then I hope they build a residential component and hide the garage. The other gas station just a bit north could work, but it is little farther away from the action (not necessarily bad, since it can jumpstart development there). Location behind the Vogue is interesting. I never thought of that place being big enough to accommodate 300-car garage + residential/commercial component. That would add density and urban feel.

        Now, in the perfect world, we would be focused on building streetcar rail from downtown to BR, which would spur development along the rail, and we might not even need an additional garage, since a lot of people living in the area would have access to BR....but with our current leadership that's a fantasy...the best we can hope for is that our city weasels try their best to not do too much damage...let's hope (however unlikely) that the private money can do it without any city support.
      • Not so sure.....
        I don't believe that B-ripple needs more parking, just a change in attitude as does downtown Indy. We must move beyond the parking lot to hold suburban vehicles for an hour of shopping. We must develope a sense of place, a community where people use alternatives and parking lots only externalize the cost of driving.
      • Follow the Money
        Everyone knows Broad Ripple needs more parking.

        The real fight has always been between the city and the retailers. The city controls zoning and parking in the area. The politicians would hold things up in an attempt to pick winners and losers with insider deals.

        ACS will no doubt be heavily involved with this;(
      • righting a wrong
        Please have ground level retail or office.

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