East-side associations fight gas-station plan

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A property owner’s plans to convert the northwest corner of East 10th Street and Emerson Avenue into a convenience store and gas station are causing consternation among neighborhood leaders who hope to stop the project.

gas-station-map-062514.gifNeighbors first noticed the demolition of a vacant one-story retail building at the busy intersection—across the street from a Village Pantry and near the Steer Inn restaurant—in the past month. All that’s left now is the façade.

“There are multiple objections to this,” said Tammi Hughes, executive director of the East 10th Street Civic Association. “A gas station and convenience store are not contributing positively to the near-east side.”

Among her objections to the project: It does nothing to advance the plan for a pedestrian-friendly business district. On a broader scale, she said the east side already boasts more than enough service stations.

Hughes hopes to recruit neighboring community development corporations in her effort to stop the project, as well as speaking to both city officials and the developer to explore other options for the corner.

rop-gas-station-063014-15col.jpg The building being demolished at 10th Street and Emerson Avenue has been vacant at least three years. (IBJ photo/Scott Olson)

The brick building with a clay-tile roof bears no historical significance, but the high-profile corner on which it sits should be able to attract a better use than a gas station, Hughes argues.

The building last housed a used furniture store and a strip club, and has sat vacant for at least three years. Hughes tried working with the former property owner to help sell the building before it was purchased in 2009.

Balwinder Singh, who owns gas stations at East 10th and North Rural streets and at East 21st Street and Arlington Avenue, bought the property for $38,000, according to city records. He said no one has voiced any concerns to him about the project.

“They haven’t talked to me about it,” he said, “but I don’t have a problem discussing it with them.”

Singh said he’s in talks with a few fuel providers but doesn’t have a signed contract with a brand yet.

The site at 1008 N. Emerson Ave. is zoned to allow for a gas station. If a zoning variance is needed, however, that triggers a public-comment period, said Adam Baker, spokesman for the city’s Department of Code Enforcement.

Even so, opponents of a project can file an appeal. That’s what happened in early May when a city zoning board revoked the sign permit issued by the Metropolitan Development Commission for a billboard in the Geist area.

The city so far has issued a demolition permit to Singh, giving him the go-ahead to tear down much of the 1920s-era building. The permit expires in mid-July, and Singh has yet to apply for a building permit, Baker said.

Records show Singh of Greenwood filed a state construction permit in February for a 2,700-square-foot building. The permit specifies that Balwinder must save the existing south and east walls of the building that front 10th Street and Emerson Avenue, per city requirements.

Hughes has fought similar battles before. She’s helped stop the development of two other gas stations, both on separate corners at New York and Rural streets in the adjacent Englewood neighborhood.

A former Village Pantry on the southeast corner of the intersection where a developer proposed one of the gas stations was a magnet for crime and logged numerous police runs, said Joe Bowling, executive director of the Englewood Community Development Corp.

“I’ve lived in the neighborhood more than 20 years and I’ve never run out of gas looking for a gas station,” he said. •


The Behind The News column will return next week.


  • Eminent domain
    Just FYI, that's eminent domain, and citizens do indeed have a say in whatever kind of business might choose to locate there. We live here and are in part responsible for the safety and security of our neighbors and family. Private ownership does not always win out over the rational use of land.
  • Public v private
    FISCAL ADVISOR: I agree with most of your thoughts, however, this is not PUBLIC property, it is owned PRIVATELY and comes with vested property rights/zoning. If the owner wants to build something permitted by law, but is contrary to what the neighborhood/city wants, then someone should step up and purchase the property from the current owner, and develop it as they wish. Imminent domain is always a last resort, but is available, if the owner is unreasonable and the public good is served by an alternative use.
    • Free Market Not Equal to No Planning
      Jack, I'm 100% with you on letting the market work to allocate resources. However, within the functioning of a robust capitalist economy there is room for strategic planning. Ms. Hughes, among others, is simply stressing that value of looking forward (a bit) before decisions about investments at certain public sites are finalized. The process being followed is there for this specific purpose. As Indy strives to compete with Carmel and other suburbs to attract and retain higher income families, some effort has to be put forth toward pursing the types of investments most likely to align with that goal. Occasionally, such planners see a situation were a proposed investment that more would likely move the neighborhood away from the ultimate goal than toward it. At that point they use this process to raise such concerns. This does not mean that the current property owner cannot pursue his own investment idea. It means only that there is a process in place where planners and neighbors have an opportunity to inquire about the investment and assess whether or not they feel it might be detrimental to their own existing private property values/rights. Only if enough neighbors object, might the planned investment have to be changed. It's an attempt to balance the interests of competing property rights, not deny property rights.
      • Better than.....
        I guess a gas station is better than another check cashing store, or pawn shop. But does that area really need another gas station? How about opening up some quality grocery stores in this area with fresh produce and everything that the other sides of town take for granted. There is plenty of room here on the eastside and plenty of money to be spent. We are not all on welfare, section 8 housing. There are still many middle class people living around here and we deserve more.
      • Free Market
        Since Ms Hughes seems so opposed to a convenience store (agast!), maybe she'd prefer the owner open it back up as a strip club. That might serve her justice. I guess the owner, who purchased the distressed/vacant property is supposed to ask Ms Hughes what she wants on the corner so he can then invest his private funds in something that floats her fancy.

        Post a comment to this story

        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
        Subscribe to IBJ