Plans for Broad Ripple parking garage hit snag

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Construction of a $15 million parking garage and retail project in Broad Ripple could be in jeopardy because the property sits nearly 4 feet below a flood plain.

Local developer Keystone Construction Corp. is requesting a variance to build the three-story garage without the necessary flood protection on the site at the three-way intersection of Westfield Boulevard and Broad Ripple and College avenues.

Keystone’s engineer, Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint Inc., said that a nearby levee, which ultimately will be part of a larger system to be built near White River, provides enough protection for the parking garage.

But Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development staff is recommending denial of the zoning change and said the ground floor of the garage needs to be built above the flood plain.

Keystone, however, argued that elevating the ground floor would add too much expense to the project.

Calls to Keystone and its attorney were not returned Monday morning.

The Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to consider the variance at its meeting on Tuesday.

The city of Indianapolis is helping to finance the 350-space garage with $6.3 million in parking meter revenue.

It is investing in the project to fix a simmering parking problem in Broad Ripple and to clean up a blighted corner with a long-vacant Marathon station. Keystone will own the project, including the garage, and collect all the revenue.

The mayor’s office sought proposals in March 2011 and picked from seven options, including bids by Kite Realty Group, Browning Investments and Buckingham Cos.

Keystone in December received city approval to construct the building without a required 70-foot setback and no loading spaces for deliveries. Instead, the parking garage would front the streets and be separated only by sidewalks, with street-side loading on College Avenue.

A plan to include a bank and a drive-through have drawn opposition from neighbors who have said it will substantially increase traffic in the area.


  • Not required to be elevated
    Not an expert on this issue, but compliance with the flood regulations can be achieved through elevating the finished floor space (pretty sure that doesn't apply to an open garage structure through which water could flow) OR by structural floodproofing. I don't know what all that entails (better, stronger construction of walls to withstand the pressure of floodwater?), but it's been done in other locations.
  • Easy Solution
    If Keystone really just wants to build a parking garage then eliminate the ground floor retail and then the actual parking garage would be elevated the required amount. The garage is just a front for the landlord wanting retail space. That is how they are going to make their money. By the way, Keystone picked up various liquor licenses at the auction downtown a few months back. Guess they are counting on bars and banks to produce the revenue that a nearly empty garage except on weekends will never be able to.
  • Drunks
    Flooding aside, why are drunk people crossing College Ave to the parking garage the big concern? No drunk person should be heading to the parking garage alone. Because if you're that drunk to not know how to cross the street, there is no way you should be getting into a car in the parking garage and driving away. So in my opinion, drunk people crossing the street isn't a factor. If they're that drunk, there should be at least 1 sober person with them.
  • And read this recent case AGAINST our boy

    Does anyone know if it is a felony to not disclose your prior company went under?

    2010 WL 1325571
    Only the Westlaw citation is currently available.
    United States District Court,
    S.D. Indiana,
    Indianapolis Division.

    GUARANTY COMPANY, a Maryland
    Corporation, Plaintiff,

    Ersal OZDEMIR, an individual; Tamara
    Bolding, an individual, Defendants.

    No. 1:08-cv-1501-RLY-DML.March 30, 2010.

    5). Between March 2002 and May 2004, USF & G made
    forty-seven separate payments totaling $1,215,649.11 to
    unpaid subcontractors and suppliers of Aymir pursuant to
    the Surety’s payment bond obligations on these Bonded
    Projects. (Id. ¶ 7, Snyder Aff. Ex. C; see also USF & G’s
    Finding of Fact # 17). In addition, USF & G paid
    $73,255.46 to two contractors that assisted the Surety in
    completing Aymir’s remaining obligations under its
    performance bonds. (Snyder Aff. ¶ 20, Snyder Aff. Ex. C;
    see also USF & G’s Finding of Fact # 20). USF & G’s
    remaining losses totaling $109,717.83 were for
    reimbursement for legal fees, travel costs, copying costs,
    and other expenses incurred through June 2009. (Snyder
    Aff. ¶ 12, Snyder Aff. Ex. H; see also USF & G’s
    Findings of Fact # 21-25). USF & G offset a portion of its
    losses by recouping $167,932.42 in remaining contract
    funds on the Bonded Projects. (Snyder Aff., Ex. C; see
    also USF & G’s Finding of Fact # 26). According to USF
    & G, the Defendants are jointly and severally liable for
    USF & G’s damages totaling $1,230,689.98, plus interest
    and any further legal costs that USF & G incurs after June
    2009, pursuant to the parties’ Indemnity Agreement.

    *2 On November 6, 2008, USF & G filed the present
    action to recoup its costs against Defendants. USF & G
    now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons set
    forth below, the court GRANTS USF & G’s motion.

    II. Construction of the Indemnity Agreement


  • To Eric
    And you could also ask what kind of business bids without knowing all the facts? Or they knew, but made a political miscalculation. I am generally supportive of city's subsidies to urban residential/commercial projects (even though there is no guarantee that the city will collect more in taxes). But these guys already got a more than generous subsidy, and it appears that they didn't do their homework.

    Craig, flood insurance or building above the flood plain = higher cost...same thing. I don't think anyone here is misunderstanding the real issue.
  • The City Is Not A Bank
    Eric, the city is not a bank. If the developer wants to build a garage, he can do what any other private developer would do who wants to build a parking garage, and go to a bank and file an application for a construction loan. If a bank will not lend him the money, then that means he is proposing a project that the market does not want, and so it should not be built.

    Also, per the CONTRACT signed with the city, the $6 million+ given to the developer is explicitly not treated as a loan. It is supposedly an upfront payment for 10 years of rent for the small portion of the garage to be used as an police substation. I am pretty sure the police can rent space nearby for a small substation for less than over $600,000 a year, and certainly without having to pay 10 years upfront.

    And, yes, when the developer has been given all sorts of variances and creative city financing (i.e. the upfront rent), he does have gall asking for the city to give him an exemption to rules that apply to everyone else. And, it is a variance that, by the way, could threaten the city's participation in the federal flood insurance program.

    Either the developer can figure out how to build the garage within the existing flood control rules, or the garage can be canceled. Then, the city can take back its $7 million and build a garage on a different parcel of land. Or, people can just learn to park a little farther away and walk. Or stay home. Either way, it is not the job of the city to finance private development--that is not why anyone pays taxes. Taxes are paid to provide public services, like fire protection or public schools, not to dole out grants, loans, subsidies, gifts, etc. to private developers.

  • SCAM
    This was a boondoggle scam from the start.No other construction company even had a chance at this project. The study that the city paid for said the garage needed to be built behind the Vogue. IMPD also brought up safety issues with drunks walking across collage.Someone wil get hit, its just a matter of time.

    This was nothing but a big thank you to Keystone for providing free offices space to the MCRCC and for all of the donations in cash and inking to the various Ballard interests.This was pay to lay from the start
  • Really?
    I'm pretty sure gifts aren't repaid.... This is a loan. One that will no doubt be secured by the property, repaid with parking revenue and ultimately generate a steady stream of tax revenue from a needed resource. And oh the gall of a business concerned about costs!
    • It's concrete for Pete's sake
      Seriously, Broad Ripple needs more parking, that will bring in more revenue. Parking garages are concrete structures, flood water, if it ever comes will not bother concrete and in fact the upper floors would provide some elevated space that could be used by the town to temporarily park or place vehicles or items to protect them. Building the ground floor of a parking garage above the rest of the twon is about as stupid a thing as I've ever heard from a zoning or development board and I lived in Chicago!
    • Kill the Project
      The project doesn't have any tenants beyond the police department.

      The project doesn't fit properly on the lot.

      The projects has already gotten several ill advised variances and its design is all screwed up. Parking spaces too small, traffic pattern too tight, environmental clean up exception, sidewalks narrower, etc...

      The project is getting millions of taxpayer funds as a gift with nothing in return.

      The project creates dangerous pedestrian traffic issues since everyone needs to cross busy College Avenue to get to the bars on the strip. (Drunks & cars don't mix well)

      How much more silliness will we allow?
    • Solution
      There is no retail solution to be built on that site without a variance. I do think, however, that a banal garage with no retail, precast concrete to the ground, would easily satisfy the flood plain requirements. Is that what we want to see? Compromise is needed here to build a pedestrian-friendly project.
    • Rocky Ripple Floods
      Talk of a solution to the floodplain situation with the Army Corps of Engineers has been going on for over 40 years. Nothing has been done.

      No variance will or should be granted.

      Scrap the controversial project and rebid for a more suitable parking/retail solution with no public assistance.

      • Misunderstanding the Issues
        Practically every comment here is misunderstanding the real issues. It has nothing to do with flood insurance. And rainwater in Broad Ripple streets is not a flood plain issue.

        I don't know all of the details of the timing of the completion of the levee project, but it is my understanding that the project will help to remove much of Broad Ripple from the flood plain. What takes time (years) is for FEMA to redraw the maps which will allow property owners to not have to pay flood insurance or be required to build above the flood plain.

        Raising that site 4' above the existing grade is completely impractical. Think about it - first floor of a bldg 4' higher than the sidewalk. The other option for Keystone is to build a concrete base 4' tall or install flood gates at all glass and doors. All terrible options. I believe the city should grant Keystone's variance.

        What other business in Broad Ripple, a community totally on the street, has steel flood gates or windows, 2-7' only above a concrete base? None. They are all grandfathered, and none have flooded since... 1913? What needs to happen here is the completion of the levee, the redraw of FEMA maps, and political leverage to get this done.
      • Sketchy project
        This whole project, especially its funding, has been sketchy from the start. Given that Broad Ripple streets flood like crazy every time it rains, the DMD is right. Why do we even have city staff review projects if complaining gets the rules changed?
      • Link
      • Pogue's Run
        Kris, the Pogue's Run area was only removed from the flood plain after the city spent several millions of dollars installing a flood control project.

        So, there is no one to contact to request to be removed from a flood plain, as if you were requesting to be put on a do not call list. Perhaps after the new levee is built you will be able to forgo flood insurance, until then, you live in a flood plain.
      • Jump on Board
        I love the enthusiasm! The Warfleigh neighborhood (west of College, north of the canal, south of the river) has also been trying to figure out a way get our area re-mapped and lifted from the flood plain. Here's a discussion thread from our website - feel free to contact our web administrators and join the cause! We are definitely watching this development with the parking garage very closely.
      • Flood Plain
        This is a legit issue. I have a house in a flood plain and I have gone through 3 major floods. At this point my flood policy has paid out more in repairs than what the house is now worth.
      • Government. puts it to us again
        Lived in the are 20 yrs. Pay $$$$$ in flood insurance every year. Screw you Keystone Corp. Pay or leave. Or better yet, use your resources to help finish up up the levy we have been waiting for . That will benefit us all. Be a true good neighbor.
      • Flood Insurance
        George, I am with you! I have been told the same thing (I currently have to have flood insurance even though I am far from the river (but a block or so from the canal). How do we get folks to look at this and remove us from the flood plane? they successfully did it with Pouge's Run a few years ago...Who should we contact, etc.? I will help!
        • Broad Ripple Parking
          I live in view of this site. I have to pay flood ins and my house is on an elevated plane from this site..if they get a flood variance it will just confirm that politics/business are above the law!
        • Are you kidding me?
          That is the most ridiculous reason NOT to build. I liked in that community for over 10 years and that was 25 years ago. No flooding when we have had some of the most reported heavy rainfalls in history.
        • Flood Plain, Schmud Plain
          We have the same issue being required to pay flood insurance living in Broad Ripple but, in fact, it is not a flood plain any longer with the building of the levee in the canal some years back. When I've inquired, I've been told that it takes some legislative wrangling to get it redesignated and that I'm stuck paying flood insurance even though I no longer live in a flood plane. My guess that will finally get dealt with given the influences marshaled to put in the parking garage!
        • Destroy?
          How did they destroy a corner that was an empty gas station for 10 years? Even if it doesn’t get built at least there is no more eye sore of an empty gas station like there is 2 blocks north on College.
        • Freebees not enough?
          Unbelievable. After receiving a $6+ million GIFT from the city to build this garage, the developer is complaining about cost???
          • really!?
            I live in the area, and when I bought my house, I knew it was in a flood zone. And I budgeted for my flood insurance. These guys first get a sweetheart deal from their buddy in the office, and now they want more.

            I don't think they will get a variance, but I would not be surprised if their buddy doesn't give them more money.
          • Keystone
            ...Maybe it's time to get a developed to develop the site who is worried about a little more than just the bottom line (and who isn't also in the Mayor's pockets). Good luck getting a variance on a 4'-0" flood plain issue. Too expensive to revise and add ramps/addt'l elevator...bummer. I guess you should have thought about that BEFORE you destroyed the entire corner!

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