Councilor takes aim at Browning's Broad Ripple apartment project

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A City-County Council member who threatened to block the rezoning that Browning Investments Inc. needs for its Broad Ripple apartments-and-grocery project now says he'll stay out of the matter. But a fellow Democrat continues to oppose it and might throw up a new hurdle.

“I'm going to take a hands-off approach on the zoning and focus on the financing,” said at-large councilor John Barth, who had.wanted to stall the project.

Barth has been in talks since spring with Mayor Greg Ballard's office about directing tax-increment financing revenue from the newly created North Midtown district toward the area around 38th and Illinois streets, in addition to Broad Ripple.

Browning hasn't publicly requested a subsidy for its $25 million, mixed-use project, but Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Deron Kintner has said he expects TIF money to be part of the equation.

Browning's request for rezoning will go before the Metropolitan Development Commission Wednesday afternoon, and the hearing is expected to draw a large crowd of opponents. At-large councilor Zach Adamson has spoken against it, and he said that if the MDC approves it, he might try to block it when it reaches the council on Oct. 14.

The City-County Council approves most zoning changes on consent, but members have the ability to call out agenda items, forcing an additional hearing. Adamson said he's motivated as much by his concern over zoning matters as his opposition to giving Browning TIF money.

Browning's plans call for a 35,000-square-foot grocery—earmarked for a Whole Foods—and 104 apartments on a 2-acre site northeast of College Avenue and the Central Canal. The site includes a long-vacant Shell station that faces College Avenue, as well as several low-rise apartment buildings.

The rezoning would allow retail uses on the site. Browning also is requesting a variance of development standards for outdoor seating, some architectural elements, and to build fewer parking spaces than required for a project that size. The firm's plan calls for a four-story garage with 340 spaces.

Adamson said he thinks Browning's proposal counters the “Envision Broad Ripple” plan that the city wrote in conjunction with the neighborhood. “They put together this plan, and then we disregard it?” he said.

Supporters of the project include Will Gooden, the councilor who represents the area; the Broad Ripple Village Association; and Midtown Indy, a not-for-profit that promotes neighborhoods north of Fall Creek.

Adamson acknowledged that the council typically defers to the district councilor on zoning issues, but he said Broad Ripple, like Monument Circle and Massachusetts Avenue, is important to people who don't live there. "They sort of belong to everybody," he said.

Among the opponents is Rudy Nehrling, owner of the nearby Good Earth Natural Foods. He said he's not worried about competition from the organic grocery giant. He said his concern is that Broad Ripple is losing its village character.

Broad Ripple is becoming home to more bars and more national-chain businesses, he said. “I've had a lot of people tell me that would be it,” he said of the Whole Foods. “That would be the straw.”


  • Keep Broadripple Local
    Hello, In most cases development is good, however this area has special character and appeal, which is become a rare commodity in modern day cities. All going well, the city will refuse planning permission and help preserve the special look and feel that Broadripple has in the heart of Indianapolis. Your sincerely, Indiana Resident
  • If not BR then where?
    I will preface this by saying that I am not a Broad Ripple resident, but I am an Indianapolis resident, and as a resident of a community, you must act on what will be more beneficial for the group as a whole. Broad Ripple is a popular urban area within a city. It's "village feel" is gone. Villages don't have that many clubs and bars (i.e. Fishers). Opponents of this plan need to realize tht the face of Indianapolis is changing and city leaders want to do more that will attract people to the city for more than just an event or convention, but for permanent living. If any neighborhood should have a Whole Foods, I would think it would be Broad Ripple. If not Whole Foods, perhaps Trader Joes. Either way, this will attract more people to the area, not just Indianapolis residents, but visitors as well. How many Broad Ripple business owners complained that they did not see the type of profits they were expecting during Superbowl 46? Well visitors will need something to attract them away from downtown, and bars and clubs alone aren't enough. Retail, such as a clothing store, and other options with the Whole Foods will attract people. And why not have an apartment building on top? Suburbs like Silver Springs, MD in addition to other cities grasped this concept a long time ago. Everything doesn't have to be downtown. Indianapolis has a lot of small niche urban areas that could stand a little enhancement so that the city doesn't look like a "one trick pony". If not Broad Ripple, I suppose this would possibly work at the corner of 56th and Lee Road and attract more businesses and people to that area. But something like this is made for Broad Ripple and the local residents there should consider what this would mean regarding an economic boost and increase in property value.
  • response
    There is nothing of an eyesore with those apartments. The eyesore was with the shell gas station. The apartments is a land grab for profit for Browning investments and does little for Broad Ripple, a place that is not hurting for business like many other parts of the city. If you don't like it then move is coercive statement and childish, and not a mark of a free community but a community that has been lied to and told to take it. If you don't like a village setting than YOU MOVE, if you really live there. This is 2013, when we're supposed to be smart enough to know when to not swallow the rhetoric of monied interest and the cat calls from their blind and ignorant minions. The irony is, you would have a better chance of your argument being valid in 1913.
  • Zoning argument or TIF argument?
    Am I correct in assuming that if TIF dollars are used for this project, it will increase the tax base and, subsequently, the amount of TIF funds available for the next Midtown project? There are a lot of comments here that are polarizing with respect to TIF funds, but I don't get a sense that the majority of posters are attempting to do the work to truly understand how TIF works. Besides: at this point in time, isn't it only about the zoning? And if it's about zoning, shouldn't we be discussing that? I personally think this project, while not perfectly satifying all aspects of the enVision guidelines, does fulfill the majority of the principles. No project will ever be "perfect." I appreciate councilor Adamson's fight, but it seems misplaced. Perhaps he is grandstanding in an effort to find a permanent position once his at large seat is gone? Either way, I would weigh the involved neighborhood associations' and residents' opinions far more heavily than I would a non BR-resident, non BR-worker like councilor Adamson. I'm surprised at how many people are so energetic with respect to this project. Open elections for BRVA directors is coming up on Oct 15th. Perhaps some of you would be willing to channel your energy into working on the board to change the Village as you see fit - as opposed to just chiming in on the internet. http://brva.org/events/2013-annual-meeting/
  • no clue
    for the people voting against this project...get a clue! the gas station and apartments are nothing but an eye sore and NEED to be demolished. if you don't like it...move! b/c its going to happen. oh...and when you do move...be prepared for more situations like this (assuming you will be in a similiar "BR village" atmosphere. this is 2013...not 1913. get with it
    • Character and class of Broad Ripple
      I think the best part of this NEW project is that its going against the grain of the current character and class of Broad Ripple. When you look down the avenue, there is old graffiti covered flith as far as the eye can see. That terrible facade of the cigar and shoe repair stores; the abandoned BW3 building. I'm looking forward to both Browning and Lor Corps projects helping to bookend the village with the existing parking garage. We've waited far too many years for business owners and landlords to clean up these places. It hasn't happened. So bring on the NEW character and class!
    • Standing Up for Broad Ripple
      Broad Ripple is a treasure to our city. It's indeed good to see Councillor Adamson showing some backbone and standing up to Keep Broad Ripple Local! No one wants that abandoned gas station there, but an out-of-character apartment/retail development is not perfect either. Tell Whole Foods to build in the Meadows where they actually need a grocery and scale down the residential plans so that it meets the character and class of Broad Ripple.
    • Adamson Campaign Rally Below!?
      Some are referencing the DMD plan like it's written on stone tablets. Let's remember this is a static plan and its written by people who write plans for a living - not developers or those with real world experience in making developments work. Further, TIF money is essentially deferred tax in exchange for residual benefit of employment & proximity development-no one is "giving" money to developers. As far as comments on building size, there's no context to your argument-its like listening to someone talk about PSI when they have no idea how it relates to the discussion.
    • Out with old in with the new
      I think i get about how the problem is using TIF money in area that doesnt need the funds. Also about changing the "village" feel of BR, but we have seen similar things like this before. I believe the term i am looking for is gentrification. Officials seem to be trying to change the demographics of BR. Attract young single adults maybe even the college crowd, and yes this forces out the single family dwellers. The development project most certain will bring up property values and position the area for future growth and profits. But dont we see this with properties in urban areas all the time? Parcels are purchased in an effort to redesign the communities; thus driving out older more long term residents (some who can not afford to live in the area anymore) to now attract a younger more vibrant crowd. If this happens in a lot of other neighborhoods, what makes BR any different?
    • .
      Browning already owns those apartments.
    • Because
      YOu don't need to demolish an entire block of apartments 5 times the size of the eye sore known as Shell gas station, just to fix it. You don't repave an entire street to fix a single pothole. This is a land grab by Browning investments and has ZERO to do with correcting an eye sore or revitalization. Browning Investments stand to make a ton of cash, and Broad Ripple gets more traffic. The project would never take off unless the developer stood to make a ton of money by being allowed to LAND GRAB properties adjacent to the Shell station, properties never ever considered for demolishing until the Shell closed down.This is crony capitalisim and a bad investment for tiff money for a city that is projected to be 55 million in the hole for its 2014 budget. This is not for Broad Ripple, the BRVA has been bought.
    • ROI
      For all those waving the fiscal conservative flag; has anyone actually sat down and calculated out the ROI from the project? A municipality largely funds itself on property taxes, so the idea that a city might leverage a bond to create a new infill project and thus increase its tax base, on the surface, isn't a fiscally unwise idea. Just because the development doesn't make sense for Browning to do without some degree of support from the TIF doesn't mean it doesn't make fiscal sense for the city of Indianapolis. If the incremental tax revenue from the property surpasses the debt service on the bond, then that's more money flowing into the TIF to help finance other developments, or provide services across the city once the TIF expires. I have plenty of issue with the project itself; namely, the last thing we need in Broad Ripple is another massive underutilized parking garage. All the garage is going to do is institutionalize our dependence on cars further in the absence of a legitimate public transportation system. The newer/nicer apartments, however, are desperately needed, but I'm not sure about another boutique grocery with Fresh Market just a few blocks away.
    • Wrong Argument
      That's great you think that Zach isn't running and the whole fiscal conservative argument, but that should be directed at Councilor Barth. He said he would fight against because of the Tiff. Councilor Adamson said he would fight because it counters the "“Envision Broad Ripple” plan. The plan didn't call for new bars, but 3 have opened since this plan has been in place and Adamson was no where to be found on those. I have no problem with him using the Tiff fund argument, but don't say anything about the Broad Ripple Plan if he isn't going to fight everything that goes against the plan. If the Adamson really cared about Broad Ripple he would be fighting against the crumbling apartments landlord or the $1 drink specials, but he picked a highprofile project for his gain only. And one of the key issues in the plan called for increased density in the Broad Ripple village. So did he really read it?
    • TIF Money
      For everyone talking about how Admanson is so principled for opposing our tax dollars being spent for an out of state corporation, why does he have to oppose the zoning variance? That is not very genuine; why can't he oppose the use of TIF funds when the time comes. Our zoning standards are cumbersome and archaic (minumum parking, very low height restrictions, set backs that belong in the suburbs, lot use restriction that belong in the suburbs). It is not uncommon at all for projects to seek and get approval for a zoning variance. Oppose the TIF funds when the time comes but don't oppose dense mixed use development INSIDE A SUPPOSEDLY LARGE CITY just because we have zoning laws that would turn our urban areas into a large suburb.
    • Zach Adamson
      I concur wholeheartedly with Paul Ogden regarding his comments pertaining to Councilor Zach Adamson. From the moment Mr. Adamson took his seat on the Council he worked tirelessly to represent what he believes are the best interests of the Marion County residents he was elected to serve. Similar to Mr. Ogden, my political philosophy is Republican. Zach and I may not always see eye to eye on every issue but I know for a fact from personal experience that Zach conducts himself and his votes within a framework of what he believes in and that framework includes fiscal integrity and genuine concern for very best interests of the people of the County.
    • More Corporate Welfare
      Good for Adamson! Why does Browning need ANY tax dollars to develop this site? That is especially true as so many of us living in Broad Ripple do not want this type of development. Lastly, if this project proceeds, the traffic in the area will be horrific. This whole thing reeks of a money grab by Browning at the expense of those of us that live here.
    • Thank you to Councilors who find difficulty giving LOCAL tax dollars to Wall Street
      I sincerely applaud City Councilors who can empathize that it IS a TERRIBLE idea to subsidize WALL STREET corporations with LOCAL tax dollars, at existing businesses' expenses. I have heard criticisms that supporting EXISTING business is favoritism, but REALLY!!! WHAT IS GIVING GINORMOUS TAX SUBSIDIES TO WALL STREET CORPORATIONS!!! NEVER have local businesses gotten subsidies like that. 80% of all jobs are with SMALL BUSINESS, yet so many leaders bend over backwards to give extraordinary support to large business, and give no equal consideration to small business. KUDOS to leadership that can see a bad idea BEFORE IT IS IMPLEMENTED!
    • Zach Adamson
      These shots at Councilor Adamson and the suggestion he has some ulterior motive are downright laughable. I have watched councilor after councilor give up their principles to sign on to the notion that our tax dollars are not for city services, but rather for subsidizing private companies like Browning. Adamson is one of the few councilors who has integrity and stands by his convictions, including standing up for taxpayers. Zach is a Democrat and I am a Republican, but I can tell you he is one of the most fiscally responsible members on the council. Regardless of whether you believe his position is right, I don't think there is any question that he is doing what he believes is in the best interests of the people of Broad Ripple and the taxpayers of Indianapolis.
    • Stop
      Go to Broad Ripple, on a Saturday night, I dare you. I'm not a Whole Foods fan but I, on the far upper end of the 18-35 year old high earners, can barely think of anything except a few brunch spots which keeps me from selling or renting my dream bungalow to the highest bidder...which by experience tells me it will be college students at best. Deny this, "For Sale" is what you will see in my yard and many of my neighbors. You can, or I hope you can, foresee the impact as we (Broad Ripple residents) shape our future. Controlled development to improve our desired community, absolutely. Opposition without consideration for one of the most charitable/flexible AND local developers we (Indy) have to offer is certainly unacceptable to me, a hopeful lifer in BRipp. Sincerely, Local
    • Who is Zach Adamson to say this project doesn't fit the Envision Broad Ripple Plan? He is someone who READ the plan!
      Community planning means something. Anyone who says it doesn't deserves to have a hog farm move in next door. Change has to fit with the Plan. The BRVA list sight of that somewhere along the way, which is sad. Please, people. Read the Plan, and you will see that Adamson has a good point. And "calling it down" only means it will be up for DISCUSSION by the Counsel. Since when is talking about an issue that will impact the future of a community a crime? Isn't discussion something we want in our government?
    • Browning thinks BR needs more drunken singles?
      Forget for a moment that Browning wants to drop a 35,000 square foot concrete cube onto a 3,300 square foot gas station lot. This message goes out to stroller mom. I am a mother, and I can tell you whose homes will be leveled by this development. Families' homes. The vast majority of the high-priced apartments constructed in their place would be studios and one-bedroom flats. Who does this attract? It attracts the same 21-25 year-old singles who party hearty in Broad Ripple every weekend night. Browning is building a stable for the bar crowd. I say Zach Adamson is trying to protect more than the village aesthetic. He stands for the continued inclusion of families in the fabric of Broad Ripple.
      • deposit
        Browning....has had a deposit on it for a long time, now...
      • gas station..
        Who owns the gas station, why has it been in that condition so long and why hasn't someone come up with a proposal until now?
        • Get educated abou this
          Thanks, Zach... A politician who stands up for the people and who is not afraid ..Rare, indeed.Its amazing how many people on here who post and have no idea what the issues really are..Please educate yourself..This is wrong in so many ways..We are talking about peoples lives, not just the abandoned gas station..Residents who have lived here for years being pushed out of their homes..and using tax payers dollars to do it with..Read the BR envision plan..This is to big and cant be un-built. We are talking about changing zoning laws to let a out of state big box store come in (who, when asked to compromise.. said "NO" and to stay out of their business) but also says they wont build without our tax dollars...I could go on and on...They want you and I to be submissive and roll over...Well, our Community wont...Thanks,Zach for standing up for the people who have no voice in this..We all Thank you...
          Wow, some really ignorant comments in response to this article/project. How much more clear can it be said?? ... people are NOT against improving the Shell parcel .... they are against waving the current zoning laws to allow for a humungous development (Whole Foods, the Apartment/Condos & Parking garage) that is not fitting to the neighborhood & is to receive TIF funds in an area (Broad RIpple) that is not struggling & does not need TIF funds for any reason other than to line the pockets of the developers/proposed business. If the City really, REALLY wants to give TONS of $$$ to improve this sight, then why dont they offer all these million$$$ to other business(es) that could develop the parcel(s) in a manner that meets current zoning restrictions, and fits the Broad RIpple neighborhood & landscape ?? Answer me that City of Indy & all the Haters out there ....
        • Broad Ripple Supporter
          The Shell station has been vacant for quite some times and takes up 3500 sq ft. The Whole Foods building alone is 38,000 and that doesn't include the massive parking garage that will be across the street. Why not clean up the Shell site and leave the apartments alone? Mr Adamson is correct. It took 4 long years for the BRVA and the city to come up with Envision Broad Ripple. It is less than a year old, yet the first chance they get, they want zoning and variance changes?
        • big pucture
          I think you are all missing the big picture. No one wants the Shell station to stay there. However, changing the zoning law and granting these variances and giving Whole Foods $6 million of our tax dollars is no the answer. The metropolitan development plan incorporated the Envision Broad Ripple Plan which sets forth very specific guidelines for new developments in Broad Ripple. The proposed project does not fit the plan. Hundreds of people and thousands of hours went into coming up with an ENFORCEABLE zoning plan. Are we just supposed to throw it out because the first proposed development doesnt fit the plan? How about the developers working with the city to come up with a workable plan? The Shell station is 3200 square feet of space. Do we need a 35000 sf store and a 1.9 acre development to replace it? If WF wont compromise then WF is not the answer. The world is not so black and white.
        • this is great
          This chatter about good development and political fools is the best and funniest I have heard in a while! All seems correct and on the money! I love it!...humor and intelligence, and good devleopment over small minds and political games....ain't it great!
        • Get a Clue, Adamson
          Ah yes, the village characteristics of Broadripple. Where each Friday I take my bucket to the well for fresh water and I have my trusty steed reshoed by the blacksmith, Alowicious Potter. Oh wait, it's just a bunch of restaurants and boutiques? The "Village of Broadripple " title should be interpreted no more literally than that of King's Island actually being an island.
        • Love abandoned lots!
          Mr. Admanson, thanks so much for blocking this development. I can't wait to take my baby for a walk through the abandoned gas station lot this spring. I'll get to teach her about graffiti and litter.. all part of the Village Experience! Oh, and I'm sure the Good Earth employs just as many people as Whole Foods. But as long as I can get my Birkenstocks and vitamins, nothing else matters! Way to go Zach ! I can' t imagine why anyone would move from Broad Ripple to the suburbs.
          • Really?
            I bet he would be willing to shut down the government over this too... *sigh*
          • Right on
            I agree with you.
          • Improvement
            It is laughable that people talk about maintaining the village character. Places change over time and that is the natural progression. I also agree that a vibrant development is much better than a graffiti-covered eyesore. I also lived in Broad Ripple when the Vogue was an XXX theater. I'm sure we can agree that changing to a nightclub was a vast improvement. I have a feeling many of the objectors have very short time perspective of BR village. It has and will continue to evolve.
          • Zach Adamson
            Also, as a life-long Democrat, I can say that this publicity stunt will cause me to vote for whomever runs against Mr Adamson in the future for city council or whatever higher office he aspires for.
          • Broad Ripple
            While I think the building is ugly and would prefer something besides a Whole Foods so close to so many other grocers, this project is a million times better than the eyesore that currently exists at the site. Who is Zach Adamson to claim that this project goes against the Envision Broad Ripple plan when the BRVA says that it fits in the plan. I think the group that created the plan would know more than Mr Adamson.
            • sjudge
              Adamson DOES represent the area, as do Councilors Barth, Robinson, and Hickman. Every district has FIVE councilors: one district and four at large.
            • Adamson
              Councilor Adamson is the same person who said retiring police will pay for new police clearly the man has no idea how the world works. He will make plenty of noise over the next year because he plans to run for clerk or city auditor. Indianapolis doesn't need enemies when it has Couniclors like him.
            • More to this than meets the eye
              I personally am not crazy about this development and live nearby, and the use of TIF money is a legitimate issue. That said, does anyone really believe that Adamson has some principled concern about zoning and will call this down before Council over that? Something else is going on here...
            • nexus
              It's interesting that a councilor who neither represents, works, or lives in the District opposes Councilors who do both, not to mention the local neighborhood association which worked to prepare the BR Plan. It's one thing to oppose TIF funding, although one might wait to see both what's actually requested and what's the reaction of the Midtown Economic Council, which was established expressly to review stuff like that, but opposing zoning is simply opposing the cart because your afraid you won't like the horse that might pull it.
            • Smoke another Joint
              Please city councilor, decisions like this will not make all happy. But you stopping it. Still will not help. Pick your battles carefully not foolishly. The eyesore sitting their need to be fixed. The BRVA, and others get it. So leave us alone please. Get a clear head and quiet inhaling.
            • Village Character?
              I enjoy Rudy Nehrling's comment "Broad Ripple losing its village character." The only "character" I have heard about lately are those mugging people in area alley's and parking lots. The minute a neighborhood stops rebuilding itself, it begins to decline. Protect your building standards as much as you can, but never deny the influx of investment - it's good for the entire area. Sounds like Adamson has his hand out.
            • Woo Hoo
              Glad we're keeping that Shell station. It's just a beauty to look at, and such a safe place for kids, parents, and graffiti artists to all coexist in peace.

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