Good Earth avoids $1M judgment over Broad Ripple project

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The developer of a $30 million apartment-and-retail project in Broad Ripple has lost its bid to make the development’s most vocal opponents pay nearly $1 million to cover construction delays.

Marion Superior Court Judge Michael D. Keele heard arguments June 25 and ruled against Browning Investments Inc. on Friday.

The firm had sought to make Good Earth Natural Foods and Broad Ripple resident Patrick Skowronek post a $925,000 bond to cover costs related to the delays.

The amount is an estimate of how much project costs could rise due to delays in construction, which might not start for another year depending upon how long a challenge from Good Earth and Skowronek takes.

They appealed a Metropolitan Development Commission’s decision to award Browning zoning variances to proceed with the project but lost in Marion Superior Court in March for failing to file necessary paperwork by court-required deadlines.

They’re now asking the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn Keele’s decision to dismiss the appeal. The court has agreed to hear arguments on an expedited basis, meaning a decision could come in the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, Browning Investment’s case to make the two pay for delays seemed to face hurdles from the start. Keele said during the June 25 hearing that Browning’s request for damages was “unique and different.”

In denying the request, Kathy Davis, the lawyer for Good Earth and Skowronek, said Keele implied in his decision that no state case law exists to award Browning damages.

“I think we definitely had the law on our side,” she said, “but I did think that there was a possibility that we would not be victorious.”

Jamie Browning, a firm partner, said Keele’s decision is “basically a moot point” now that the Court of Appeals has agreed to consider the case on an expedited basis.

Browning said his firm “absolutely” is still committed to the project despite the delays.

Browning Investments received approval in October to rezone 1.9 acres northeast of College Avenue and the Central Canal to allow for a single 35,000-square-foot retail space—earmarked for a Whole Foods store—plus 119 apartments and a four-story parking garage.

The firm has received calls from other retailers interested in occupying the space, Browning said.

Browning Investments is seeking $5.7 million of a $7.7 million city bond used to help finance the project along the Central Canal. The bonds would be paid off over time from property-tax proceeds in the North Midtown tax-increment financing district. The district, created in January 2013, includes the Browning project, which would be called Canal Pointe.


  • So off-base...
    The issue of whether TIF funds themselves are revenue-neutral and/or an abominable form of public millionaire assistance aside, the baseline reality here is that when the BRVA convinced the city it needed a public parking garage to "save Broad Ripple," the city issued an RFP that sent developers scurrying to tie up the sites at prices that inflated real estate prices up into the stratosphere, which is what happens whenever landowners in any given area know that there is an artificial value-driver (i.e. a city mandate AND city funds) at work. Simply put, there is incredible demand for Broad Ripple real estate and both Shell site and the apartments behind it would sell very, very quickly at generous market prices, if only the market were allowed to work on their own. So, next time somebody tries to make the argument that the properties in their current sad states are "blight" that "need to be razed and redeveloped," remember that this is a canard that is kind of mind-blowing to see so many ostensibly educated people falling for. So, if the properties have significant intrinsic value and would easily sell if only the promise of city-subsidized funding would vanish, AND if TIF funds are only supposed to be used as a last-ditch tool to help turn around a _genuinely_ blighted and at-risk area, what in the world is the a city so broke it can neither pave nor police its streets doing providing very, very real dollars to some developers and wildly profitable grocer?!? I live three blocks away and would love to welcome a new boutique retailer like Whole Foods or whatever tenant the developers ultimately land to my neighborhood. I'd love to see new apartments and new residents. But it is neither reasonable nor fair to the rest of the city for these funds to be used here to accomplish such an outcome, particularly when some other form of non-subsidized (and, maybe-just-maybe, more organically integrated into the neighborhood) redevelopment surely would occur all on its own.
  • E Bore - Browning is liberal?
    Your comment " I guess its just the liberal way to sue when you don't get your way. Sigh. " is absurd. Who is currently suing who. The lack of understanding of TIF and how it adds to developer profits at taxpayer expense is sad. Giving someone money to do something they would do any how is the Liberal way. SO I take it you are saying Browning is a bunch of liberals?
  • TIF
    "TIF only captures increment or newly generated taxes from 'new development' or 'redevelopment' and not from the existing tax base." No one loses anything, neighborhoods in need have new funds available, and everyone gains from infrastructure improvements. Read all about it at http://www.midtownindy.org/TIF-district.
  • TIF Defined
    Everyone should google TIF. It isn't tax payer monies at stake. It is dollars that would be paid by this development being forgiven. A net revenue change of zero. Developer saves on taxes in exchange for the community getting development, growth, jobs and the related sales taxes and payroll taxes that come with it. TIFs eventually run out after a set term and the community enjoys full taxation at that point.
  • Headline is not accurate
    A request for a party to put up a bond is not at all the same as a judgment against a party, so it's hardly fair to say that Good Earth "avoided" a judgment. It's fairly common in certain situations for a losing party at the trial court level to have to put up money for a bond in order to proceed with an appeal and stay a judgment. This request was unique because of the circumstances of appeal (i.e. the nature of the judgment below), but there was no complaint filed against Good Earth and therefore no "judgment" to be entered.
  • Make 'em pay!!
    Here's yet another example of forced redevelopment w/ the usual attendant corporate welfare. The City (taxpayers) should tap into Browning's et al. net profit for a certain number of years to pay back all the perks. In other words, become a stockholder.
  • How did the area become so desperate?
    What it is about central Indiana that it has become so desperate for property development? Other areas of the country seem to grow and expand based on their own economic virtues. As a passive observer who doesn't read all the news, but reads enough to notice patterns, it just feels like Indianapolis has always been a, "catch up with the Joneses" kind of city, the "Joneses" of course being cities who are more successful than ours. It's not such a bad thing and not entirely embarrassing, I suppose. But, it makes me wonder, "why not just move to a place that actually has something going on, a place with a solid base of really cool things happening, with great employment for many, rather than a few?"
  • Conservative
    It's not conservative to defend a government-favored business seeking to financially destroy a private citizen exercising his right to free speech.
  • insults...
    Personal insults are the Liberal way? Have you listened to talk radio lately? WIBC and the like?
  • fed up
    why do companies need so many tax/credit incentives??? fed up with it! companies should get ZERO taxpayer funds in any way bc they do nothing to help out the rest of us. woot woot!
  • taxpayers...
    Good Earth costing taxpayers thousands?? What about the millions in TIF funds going to Browning. Gosh, they really want to do this project, but it's financially unfeasible without public funds. Then make it a little smaller. They don't even care for the grounds to the old Shell station they own.
  • Typical
    Sounds like a Con is crying. Typical.
  • botan
    let's not forget that personal insults are also the liberal way. "we love everyone...as long as they think like us!"
  • Botan
    Typical lib comment.
    • Whatever
      Oh, exercising one's legal and Constitutional rights is the behavior of Liberals? Whatever dude! Of course, as we can see once again, being a Conservative requires ZERO intelligence. What Browning did was try to engage in intimidation by filing what is called a slap lawsuit. Not really the smartest move on their part as it just makes them look like a bully.
      • SHAME
        What a shame that Rudy Nehrling and Good Earth continue these shenanigans which are costing Browning and Indianapolis taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess its just the liberal way to sue when you don't get your way. Sigh.

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