Westfield residents help set vision for neighborhood retail

January 3, 2014
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It’s been a decade since neighbors lost a hard-fought battle to keep retail development away from the northeast corner of Spring Mill Road and 161st Street.

Now they’re working with Westfield planners to create a vision for the area that will guide future growth.

“We could either sit back and wait until something happens to us, or we could get involved and say ‘This is what we prefer,’” said Chris Bluto, a neighbor who is helping to lead the initiative.

“There has always been a push for commercial at this corner,” he added. “If somebody knocks on your door enough, eventually you have to answer.”

No one rolled out the welcome mat for the Kroger-anchored shopping center approved in 2003 after a heated zoning battle that ended up in court. But Springmill Commons stays busy despite the backlash, driving developer interest.

“Every year we get someone coming in with a proposal for one of the three remaining corners,” said Mayor Andy Cook. “It gets everyone all fired up again.”

So in 2012, when Cooperstown Partners pitched a plan for a four-building commercial cluster that included a Walgreens pharmacy, the city asked neighbors to think about what they’d like to see at the intersection and suggest an update to Westfield's comprehensive plan. (Cooperstown agreed to put its plans on hold in the meantime.)

The volunteer group spent about a year batting around ideas and visiting other areas that have successfully integrated housing and retail. Members are increasingly open to the idea of commercial convenience, Bluto said, but not at the expense of the area’s residential nature.

Springmill Station concept planOne of the preliminary concept plans for Spring Mill Station.(Rendering courtesy city of Westfield)

Last month, the group unveiled preliminary plans for Spring Mill Station, a railroad-themed neighborhood hub organizers hope will fit the bill. Think public art, green space and multiuse trails that create a village feel. Suggested uses include retail, restaurants, offices and health care, with apartments, senior living and the like providing a gradual transition to existing single-family homes.

“It’s somewhere you could stop for dinner and know you’ll run into someone from the neighborhood,” Bluto said.

Dozens of residents turned out last month at an open house where organizers provided an early look at the plans, offering suggestions the team will use to fine-tune the proposal before introducing it to City Council.

Bluto said the feedback was generally positive, and he’s encouraged that the city is interested in residents’ concerns. Cook is happy to have the help.

“It’s a fun exercise,” said the mayor, who got the first look at the group’s plans at its December open house.

  • Excellent example of community involvement
    This is a great example of what can happen when all parties are afforded a seat at the table. It is not impossible to get things done through Citizen/Government/Business interactions vs ignoring input of citizens and working only for the benefit of the Businesses and Government leaders 'visions'. Congratulations Westfield!
  • New Westfield resident
    Despite my username, I no longer live in Fishers and just recently moved to Westfield. I am happy to see that residents and officials are looking at amenities for the area. I would love to see more independent restaurants and retailers in the area. One major complaint I have is the lack of internet providers. Currently we have one choice--Frontier--and after being without internet service for a week due to a line problem, it's important to have more reliable options, especially for those of us who work from home often.
  • Good Planning
    Kudos to Mayor Cook. He is following Carmel's lead and making the effort up front to ensure good planning. To Rick Smith,I don't know where you have been for the last couple decades but Carmel spent a lot of time and money through the years on community planning and input for its Main Street and Monon Corridors. 6-7 years ago Citizens, shopowners, the chamber and City officials all met to tweak today's vision.
  • Family friendly
    I suggest a YMCA!!!!! The closest is Noblesville and the other local gyms aren't very kid friendly... Mormon center is just as far as Noblesville Y.
    • oops
      Monon... not Mormon.... grrr auto correct!!!!
    • mommaroo
      I second the YMCA! Love it all!
    • Resident Involvement
      Westfield used to way in a lot on resident involvement back when we were a town. So why did it take so long since we became a city? Several posts sound like the same drum beaters in Hamilton County. They tried for a Y at Grand Park, guess it's not going to happen. Yes, Westfield needs more public involvement, but only when it suits the city's needs. Towers of Westfield? Forget public involvement.
      • Keep Moving Forward
        I live in Greenwood and love what you folks are doing up there (jealous too). Yes, there is no utopian model for city growth and corporate / citizen involvement, but one thing is clear: if you don't move forward you stagnate and deteriorate. Or take too long and you implement ideas that are no longer valid. Yes, it takes sand in an oyster to make a pearl, but you have to keep moving forward. Keep it up! Cant wait to see how it turns out.
      • Nice going Westfield
        Someday the propaganda coming out of Carmel will cease. Everybody knows that Carmel is run by the Mayor. What Jim wants, Jim gets, just like the position and size of the new Walgreens at 116th and Rangeline Rd. The area at 126th and Rangeline isn't called "Brainardville" for nothing. Congrats to WESTFIELD for keeping its citizens involved rather than saddling them with hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of irresponsible debt like the Mayor of Carmel has done.
      • Kept in the dark in Carmel!
        Bruce I live in the new downtown. Been here over a decade. In Clay township 3 decades. May I suggest Westfield Mayor Cook is not following Carmel but has learned from our mistakes? No quote better exemplifies Mayor Brainard's attitude toward the citizens better than this quote regarding his failure to communicate with the City Council. "Asked when the council knew Keystone Avenue could end up costing more than its $90 million price tag, Brainard said it depends on the council member. "I think some of them have been very diligent," he said. "Some of them may not have asked the right questions." http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=438555&page=13 Kudos to Westfield!
      • Towers of Westfield
        Overall the City of Westfield is very involved on many levels with its citizenry, which is very refreshing. But oddly enough sometimes when the public is given an opportunity to get involved there just isn't enough general interest for people to come forward. In part, that is the truth of the matter with the Towers. My neighbrohood put out an invitation to over 1000 people in several neighborhoods to attend a Q&A presentation on the topic. The only requirement was that we get at least 30 people to RSVP. But there just wasn't enough interest. Which probably means the majority of people either A: Like it, or B: They don't really care one way or the other. Fortunately, Spring Mill Station was a bit different. People were interested to know what might happen and why. So they took advantage of the Open House opportunity to see what was being planned, ask questions and discuss their concerns. Overall it was a good environment because the structure of the gathering was neighborly and inviting, unlike a typical government meeting session, where everyone has to wait to speak their piece.
        • Totally Agree
          We do need a YMCA in Westfield!!!
        • Towers.......YES
          Being new to Westfield (1year) I do really like the idea of the "Towers of Westfield". Let's separate Westfield from all the other cities and show what we really can do.

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