Restaurant, brewery planned for former Monon Fitness

November 14, 2012
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Monon FitnessTwo local entrepreneurs are planning a restaurant, brewery, entertainment venue and aquaponic farming operation for a 1.4 acre parcel along the Monon Trail south of Broad Ripple. Proprietors Derek Means and Craig Baker hope to open Bent Rail Brewery & Coffee House in the vacant former home of Monon Fitness at 5301 Winthrop Ave. The plans call for an outdoor beer garden along the Monon Trail with standing-room capacity for 700 people. A salvaged railroad car fashioned as a stage would be used to host concerts no more than 15 times per year, along with lawn-chair family movie nights. A bicycle garage at the southwest corner of the property would accommodate up to 100 bikes and operate like a coat check, the plans show. The restaurant would follow a "Tuscan/French Peasant" theme. All of its fish, lettuce and herbs would be grown by the on-site aquaponic gardening operation. The brewery would produce an estimated 1,500 barrels annually. The plans call for demolition of two structures on the northwest corner of the site and the south central portion to make way for surface parking. The city's planning staff has recommended approval of the project with the exception of the outdoor entertainment component, citing concerns about noise affecting the residential neighborhood immediately to the west. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 15) at the City-County Building, though a delay is likely. Check out a site plan here. (It's a small file and difficult to read, but it gives an idea of the layout.)

Means and Baker, who also own The Local Eatery & Pub in Westfield, recently spoke with Mason King of Inside Dish. Watch

(Photo credit: Jim Grey)

  • great idea, but beware of the concerts...
    Here's an article about a much smaller operation that was shut down in a Nashville TN residential area - because of noise complaints despite the business owner being very cooperative with noise level and very early curfew. All it takes is one resident to shut down the entire operation :
  • Correction
    My original post listed an incorrect date for the public hearing. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Nov. 15. But the petitioners apparently have agreed to a request from some neighbors to a delay. Stay tuned.
  • No outdoor concerts
    Thx Cory. Everything looks great but the outdoor concerts, and concerts in general. We have Broad Ripple and even the College corridor for this type of activity; not appropriate in a neighborhood. Maybe they can go in Keystone's sweet parking garage. MKNA has good links as well to the site plan and other info.
    • You live in a City.
      I really wish residents of Indianapolis would realize they live in the 12th largest city in the country, and what goes with living in a city is noise. If you want peace and quiet, move to the country. I fully understand no one wants a rock concert in their back yard, but as long as a venue complies with noise ordinances, I think most people can get around "no more than 15 concerts per year." This sounds like an amazing development, and I hope the outdoor venue becomes a reality.
    • Go For It!
      This is a perfect location for a microbrewery/restaurant/beer garden - right along the Monon Trail. It will be well-managed by proven restauranteurs who will do all in their power to uphold their promises regarding limiting sound & protect relations with their nearby neighbors - who will be their CUSTOMERS. As far as parking goes, there isn't enough anywhere so maybe this will lead to better public transit options
      • awesome idea
        Who are the concerts going to bother? There is a commercial corridor behind this property that frankly is an eyesore and a magnet for tagging and crime. Hooray for these developers for thier forward thinking. Take a note from Austin, TX that has venues sprinkled around the city (next to apartments, homes, condos ect.) that successfully host bands and other acts giving customers other options that crowded downtown or Broad Ripple. It is our Hoosier backward thinking that keeps our great city lagging far behind others (even Columbus Ohio!) because we focus on (lazy) points such as parking holding progress back.
        • Great Project
          This is a great project. Those concerned about noise should take a page from the Rathskeller Biergarten downtown. They cut off the music at 11:00pm, period. Establish (or follow) the noise curfew and let the fun begin.
        • Improve Winthrop Ave
          The concept sounds cool. I wish they would partner with the City and make an investment in improving the streetscape outfront instead of continuing to use semi-public parking spaces that back into the street where there should be parallel parking, a curb, tree lawn, and sidewalk. Imagine how much that would do to start to improve the appearance and functionality of Winthrop Avenue.
        • Who Will They Bother? Neighbors
          In response to 3dhouseofmagic, the concerts have the potential to bother the residents along the west side of Winthrop. I don't have a dog in the fight, and since I don't live anywhere near the area, my opinion on the development isn't all that important, but to claim the surrounding area is all commercial without recognizing THE HOUSES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is either being ignorant of the facts or utterly disingenuous.
        • GREAT IDEA!!
          This sounds great. This is the kind of development that should be embraced not shunned. The monon fitness center is an eyesore. No question some folks have concerns but I think those concerns can be managed with good up front planning. The input from both sides is legit. But I think the positives are huge. I really hope this happens soon. Good luck!!!!
        • 12th largest city in the country nonsense...
          Nick- Indy is only "technically" the 12th largest "city" in the country due to the massive expansion of the city boundaries to extend through essentially all of Marion County in the early 70's. It's metro size rank in the mid 20's -mid 30's (depending on whether you look at MSA or CMSA) is much more reflective of how big the city really is. You could really only describe the city as urban in a relatively small area with much of the Indianapolis city limits being areas that in reality are more of suburban areas that wouldn't be counted in the city population in most places. Residents and the city are much more geared toward the real story that we are really a medium sized metro area that's somewhere near the 30th largest in the country vs. this 12th biggest city in the nation nonsense you've been fed. If you believe this 12th biggest city myth than why don't we just make the whole metro area one city of two million people and then we could distort things even further and say we are the third or fourth biggest city!
        • Let's be # 4
          That's good stuff IndyTodd. I was actually thinking the same thing when I started reading your post. I think if we could join forces with the surrounding counties, we'd probably be the 4th largest city in America, right in between Chicago and Philly (or is it Houston now?) I say, "Let's go for it. Let's be # 4 Indy!" But first can we build a curb, tree lawn, and sidewalk in front of this property?
        • I support this project
          Sounds great, maybe a little too big for my tastes, but Winthrop is seeing an infusion of new energy. I live 3 blocks away, though, and I do think outdoor concerts could be an issue for residents that live even closer than I do, and I wonder if they will reconsider that part of the plan. Regardless of that issue: Bike parking, brewery, coffee, locally produced food = win.
        • I support this project
          Sounds great, maybe a little too big for my tastes, but Winthrop is seeing an infusion of new energy. I live 3 blocks away, though, and I do think outdoor concerts could be an issue for residents that live even closer than I do, and I wonder if they will reconsider that part of the plan. Regardless of that issue: Bike parking, brewery, coffee, locally produced food = win.
        • BIG WIN
          Manage the outdoor entertainment and this is a big win for the area. may turn some people away but this is the kind of anchor that will continue to drive momentum for midtown demand and redevelopment pushing east and south. Go Midtown!!
        • Development
          I hope they can offer a biker wild hog theme party at least once. How cool to see 100's of HDs parked around. That preeence just might take care of the thugs/punks that wlak the streets at night. On that line...a NRA outing with shooting contests!
        • What's the issue?
          I can understand if you live right next door or across the street the noise may bother you. But fifteen times a year? If the owners/developers put any effort at all into including the neighborhood into the plans, it should long term benefit them. Blocking this plan and just letting this whole area rot would be a shame.
        • Outside the box
          Per the earlier comments about the size of Indy, regardless of 12th or 30th, cities of Indy's size (or smaller) have businesses like this mixed in with residential and everything is just fine. Let's live a little and not stop great ideas like this (especially in area that could use an upgrade) just because we feel we need to stick to some stereotypical "small" midwest town thinking.
        • Sounds more like NIMBYism. I remember many of the same residents didn't want the Monon Trail through their backyard beause of the crime, noise and trash. They would rather have an unregulated, abandoned rail corridor there. When the property values skyrocketed due to all of the new development the trail has pumped into those neighborhoods, you don't here a lot of complaining. I live in a small town in rural Indiana. We opened an outdoor music venue that operates around 10 concerts a year. We had close by neighbors concerned about the noise, trash etc... 6 years in, we have very few complaints. We aimed the sound away from residential, we used buildings and natural barriers to baffle the sound and we are very strict on the 11pm cutoff. This has been a very well attended asset in our community. If mangaged properly, this could be a great asset to the neighborhood. If they can get by the NIMBY's.
          • Not a Nimby
            I live near the Monon and the proposed development. I advocated and promoted the Monon Trail from the time the railroad was abandoned. First of all, check your figures - the property values have hardly skyrocketed. The trail has certainly brought people and possibly encouraged new business in the area which is a good thing. The increase in traffic along the corrider has also brought crime. Houses have been broken into along the corrider, muggings and malicious people throwing down tacks. I no longer go onto the trail, it has lost its appeal to me due to overcrowding. The residents in the area do not want the problems of Broadripple which is what this beer garden concert venue would bring. Where are over 1000 people to park but in the surrounding neighborhoods? The only people who are shouting "Bring it On" do not live in the area.
          • Hearing Date
            The Public Hearing is continued to Dec.13th.
          • Too close
            We live in the 5300 block of Guilford. My husband works on changing shifts as well as some of our neighbors. Concerts this close to the neighborhoods won't work because it will be in our back yard and we need to sleep during these hours.
          • There will be (sound)
            As a longtime resident of the area, ardent supporter of redevelopment in this area and a professional musician, I can assure you that, as much as I would love to have another cool venue at which to perform, there is absolutely no question that live sound from that site -- no matter which way it's aimed -- will be heard very clearly many, many blocks away. Bass is non-directional and the mid/high frequency stuff (snare drums, vocals, horns) will be bouncing off of nearby walls such that folks at 52nd and Rosslyn, 53rd and Park and well up and down the Monon will know -- intimately -- every time a band (or DJ) is rocking. I REALLY wish it weren't the case, but it is. Also, one need only look to the number of full-blown bars in Broad Ripple whose liquor licenses were initially approved for an "eatery (someimes "family eatery") with alcohol" to realize that what is initially proposed in zoning hearings and what ends up being the case once a business is up and running are, way more often than not, not remotely the same thing. Sinking Ship, anyone? It's called mission creep. Or, better yet, bait and switch. As much as I wish it were, Indy ain't Austin.
          • Undecided
            I live one block from the proposed development and while I very much like the idea and I'm not opposed to concerts..700 people seems like a lot...and I guess they would be parking in front of my house...which is okay too...700 people just seems like a lot. Maybe it just depends on what bands are playing and if I like their music
          • 15 concerts
            Listen, I am one of the biggest music fans in Indy bar none. I've had years where I've seen over 100 concerts here and across the nation. I've hit at least 50 shows a year going back to the 1980's so I'm very supportive of the music scene. However, I'm also a property owner with two young kids and wouldn't want loud outdoor concerts going on within a few blocks of my house 15 nights a year. A bar and restaurant with indoor shows is no problem. When you start having outdoor concerts in a residential area you are going to run into resistance almost anywhere. You know how many concerts the Wrigley Field neighbors allow them to hold a year? Four shows and that is it. People that bought houses expecting some degree of quiet at night shouldn't have to put up with loud music keeping them and their kids up. Now, as for Deer Creek that is an entirely different thing because the venue was there first before any of the houses or apartments were built nearby. Those people moved in knowing what they were getting into.
          • What's Your Ideal Number of Concerts?
            I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the 15 concerts. What number, if any, would be acceptable to you? Some of my favorite moments of living in Meridian-Kessler include listening to the bands play at St. Joan of Arc's French Festival, and listening to the Jazz Kitchen musicians play random rooftop concerts throughout the summer. Those moments create something special and unique to Indy. It's why I live in M-K and not in the suburbs. I also grew up living in Highland Park, IL where they have Ravinia Festival, one of the nation's oldest outside venue's and it's surrounded in a full residential area in all directions. All of Chicagoland loves it. I think If this plan is developed, you'll love it too.
            • So Once a Year
              Thx Sam. You helped argue that it should be limited to 1 event per year. French Market takes place at a school/church ONE time a year. So do a lot of of the other festivals in the MK. 54th Street has its Art Fair, ONE time a year. And College Avenue is not apples to apples with Winthrop. College is a major North South commercial corridor and Winthrop is a residential street. I assume the owners will work with the neighborhoods and other business owners surrounding the property to find a solution. The City has recommended to decline any amplified music even before the neighbors were aware of it. Bringing up other towns makes no sense either; Austin and Columbus are college towns, and Highland Park? Maybe those who mention them should move there.
            • Hey 'Nearby'....
     kinda sound like a paid propagandist for the owners (or maybe one of them yourself?) I've lived in that neighborhood for 20 years and can tell you one thing we do NOT need is ANOTHER restaurant/ bar...I'm 50+ years old and can tell you that MANY 'nearby' residents are my age and older and do NOT appreciate this garbage...not everyone living in BR area is 22 y.o. and wants another place for drunks and loud outdoor music!
            • Radical NIMBYism
              No wonder Dan Wakefield and Kurt Vonnegut mocked this city so ruthlessly in their writing. Let's keep the place comfy and dull, folks! Obviously it should take negotiations to reach the optimal solution, which will ideally be something between the current proposal, and its polar opposite represented by the BANANA obstructionists on display here.
            • Increase in crime
              The residential streets off of Broad Ripple have a problem with armed robberies of people walking home from the bars to their cars and/or homes. The same thing is going to happen here when the late night concerts let out and everyone is walking the surrounding residential streets and monon to get to their cars or home.
            • Only those who live elsewhere like this idea
              A large-scale restaurant seating 500+, along with an outdoor concert area seating max 1500, is not a good fit for this densely populated, PRIMARILY RESIDENTIAL area. Just ask those who live across the street on Winthrop, Guilford and Carrollton, not to mention, Forest Hills and Canterbury neighborhoods. Property values in the area would plummet should this large-scale development with an outdoor concert venue be allowed. The small corridor referred to is the only rundown spot in the area and is in need of development, but this is not a good fit. On-street parking in the area is already at a premium because of the existing small-scale restaurants customers and employees. The proposed establishment would be open seven days a week and late night; Mon.-Thurs. 7:00am-12:30am; Fri.-Sat. 7:00am-2:00am; Sun. 7:00am-10:00pm. Lasting detrimental effects on our neighborhoods, in regards to noise, crime, litter, traffic and parking would be the same problems Broad Ripple endures, and why many move from that area to ours.
            • New Business
              It is no question that this stretch of the Monon needs a facelift. There are lots of ideas and potential businesses and mixed use that would both work here and benefit the area. The development proposed does not. Why in the world would anyone even consider putting a large brewery/bar establishment in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood amongst families with small children if not for their own ruthlessness and greed to build a money making venture. That alone is very telling about the people who are behind this proposed development. They have chosen a hard road to travel and are facing strong neighborhood alliances who do not want this in their backyard. It would be a bad foot to start out on, they would not have the support of the surrounding neighborhood, and the resulting problems that are sure to come would get the establisment shut down. Anyone who is trying to start a business today certainly would not want to take that risk. The development plans sound good and look nice on paper, but are better suited for another location. I have lived in the area for quite some time so I do have a vested interest. SoBro has a separate identity from Broadripple and needs to remain the eclectic bedroom community it has become. Special interest shoppes, galleries and unique eateries and cafes that would cater to the artisan community would work well. They would also blend well with the businesses already in the area, generate interest, and enhance the attractiveness of the property without disturbing neighboring residences. A better vision to shape the future of this area is drastically needed.
            • Voting NO
              I can only see continuous complaints that will arise from the area residents. Complaints will be made to the business owners and then to the city county council if this development gets approved. Complaints about noise from late night concerts, complaints about parking in front of people's houses, complaints about traffic congestion in the area, complaints about cars speeding through the neighborhood streets to create shortcut routes, complaints about littering and trash in yards, complaints about people loitering in the neighborhoods while returning late to parked cars. It will change the area and not for the better. Most of the properties would turn into rental properties with transitional residents and not be able to sustain long term permanent owners with young families. We just moved to the area and have small children. We did not want to live in an area where we would be fearful for the safety of our children playing outside.

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