Update: Monon Place approved

June 4, 2008
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Monon PlaceThe Metropolitan Development Commission approved a $15-million Broad Ripple redevelopment project by a 9-0 vote this afternoon, disagreeing with a handful of vocal remonstrators. In siding with the developer, Buckingham Cos., commissioners said the city should be encouraging projects that add density to the tax base. The Monon Place project calls for 150 new apartments, a clubhouse and pool and about 12,500 square feet of retail space on 14 acres just east of the Monon Trail between Kessler Boulevard and 61st Street. The property includes the 136-unit Monon Place apartments and an 18,000-square-foot commercial building anchored by McNamara Florist. More on the proposal is here. Buckingham first applied to rezone the property in 2002 but lost after neighbors expressed concerns about traffic and compatibility. A neighborhood group raised similar concerns this time around.
  • Seems like a positive development for the area.
  • sweet. too bad i just moved from the same block. i would have loved to take advantage of the closer retail and redevelopment of that half-block! this is much needed and i hope more infill continues.
  • Excellent. Kudos to the MDC for not giving in to the vocal NIMBYs.
  • This is great! Finally a first-class development that will actually be built! Congratulations to the folks at Buckingham for having faith in Broad Ripple, especially in a slowed economic climate. Also hats off to Sharon Freeland and the rest of the BRVA leadership. They deserve a real pat on the back for demanding (and getting) important concessions in a let's compromise for the good of everyone effort.
    The people who resist change don't realize that Broad Ripple has to keep investing and improving to prevent being left in the dust by downtown Indy, Carmel, Fishers, etc. when it comes to attracting people to live here and patronize the local merchants. This is just another very bright spot in the mosaic that is Broad Ripple. As a nearby resident I'm looking forward to my first walk down to enjoy perhaps an ice cream or a sandwich, and sitting outside in a nice place away from all the hubbub to the north. Three cheers!
  • This is great. This is excatly what the visionaries of the Monon, Cultural Trail, and to some extent future mass transit would hope to see. Less than a block from there will now bemore people living and shopping there. IF they want its a short few block up the monon to get to the strip that is Broad Ripple. This will encourage biking, walking, more use of the monon. In essence, the monon could be considered mass tranist in itself. High Density development being so close to the monon is a great idea, and I'm glad to see that this commission has approved this. Buckingham is a great company. They do great rehab work based on their projects downtown. I look forward to the growth of this. I suspect this will also help out the new Fresh Market that is soon to open as well. Awesome
  • I moved to BR last year and look forward this, and other, developments. As brguy stated, increased investments will help draw people to the area.
  • The residents of Indy thank you MDC!!!
  • HaHaHa! The NIMBYs are going to need plenty of prozac.
  • What about the children?!?!?!?!
  • IndyColts...of course the children are important. That's why another plus about this development is the new sidewalks that will be built around the area - where there are none. Now the kids and their parents won't have to walk in the streets. Urban areas can actually be kid-friendly with their more narrow streets that require slower traffic. Folks in Lockerbie, Irvington, and many other areas do quite well with their children, without undue concern for density and cars parked at the curb. In many cities such as Boston, Chicago, etc. this kind of develoment is a way of life....and a sweet life it is. Think positive.
  • Thanks for keeping us informed Cory. I've lived near here for 24 years and I am thrilled with the approval! Yeah!
  • I have to say that the Boards and Commissions appointed by Mayor Ballard have been nothing short of stellar in their decisions since they've started.
  • BW-

    Let's not get carried away!

    As for this development, great job to the MDC and to the developers. I am glad that the local developers are trying to maximize the Monon and as mentioned, hopefully a precursor to full-out TOD!
  • Good to hear !!!!
  • Okay, Cory, maybe stellar was extreme; but, they have been placing a lot of weight on staff recommendations and realizing (with a couple of exceptions) that there is a lot of inherent value in the staff's land use recommendations, which is much more than anything that we saw before.
  • Where were the parents? This project should fit well with the area.
  • While the Boards and Commissions have been good I must mention something that may ruin one of them. An Eastside City-County Councilman is try to change the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission Law so that all decisions by the Commission would be appealable to a committee of the City Council. This would devastate the protection and professional design review provided by the commission by allowing people uninformed and substantially less knowledgeable about urban development and historic preservation be ultimately in control. Steps have already been taken to make this change. This could really ruin an entity that has really been a positive force in the development of indy's urban historic neighborhoods.
  • JAK - that's pretty scary stuff. Who is this Eastside City-County Councilman (and what is he afraid of)?
  • Mayor Ballard and stellar are not two words (okay, three) that go together, at least in my mind. If I'm not mistaken, the changes that were made to this proposal that finally got it approved, were initially suggested by the previous, that is, Mayor Peterson's board.
  • Councilman Benjamin Hunter is the snake in this Historic grass. Not a friend of Historic Preservation. Let's make his First term his last.

    See article in Urban Times
  • The government has to get its grubby little hands in everything. They feel like they are the ultimate do-gooders and nothing should get done unless it passes through them.
  • Sounds like a positive move wrt the Historic District. The people making decisions at the end of the day ought to be elected officials, not special interest commissars.
  • I'm no real Ballard afn, but I think the MDC, HE, and BZA appointments have been very positive ones.
  • DRT- WHile a lot of arguments can be made against zoning, I don't think the grubby little hands of government thing is one that holds any water. We'll see how you feel when your next door neighbor wants to open a hog slaughtering facility on his half-acre behind yours anbd there's no public hearing for you to have any say, or when some developer wants to vacate the alley behind your house so that you have no access to your garage. There are a lot of very good reasons for the public hearing process that, apparently, you don't understand.
  • BW:

    My comment was not directed towards the hearing process. And I admit I should have been more specific. I was more mad at the councilman demanding that future projects be decided on by the city council, which scares me a lot.
  • Urbanophile I am surprised. Did someone hijack your name? If this was at the state or federal level the appeal process would be a blatant violation of the separation of powers. Just like any other administrative entity, the special interest commissars are accountable because the Mayor who is an elected official. Here the city council job is to write laws not make quasi-judicial decisions. They have absolutely no business in the administrative process. Further, the reason administrative entities exist is because they have the highly specialized knowledge required of the complex issues they deal with. I am just dumbfounded.
  • As someone mentioned in an earlier post, Bill Brooks' editorial in the back page of the most recent Urban Times (not available online) offers a great synopsis of Ben Hunter's initiatives.
  • JAK, I fundamentally hate the historic preservation process as it exists in Indianapolis. My thoughts are summarized here:


    The travesty is that the IHPC is overly influenced by what handful of activist neighborhood leaders want. And that is inevitably to reduce densities. Even right downtown many of these groups want nothing but single family homes. It also radically increases the red tape of doing anything in a historic district, and is a driver of the lack of affordable housing downtown. What's more, I'm not aware that expertise in historic preservation is a requirement to be on the IHPC.

    In any event, historic preservation is a value for the community, but only one value in a group of values that sometimes come into conflict. The proper judges of the correct balance are, at the end of the day, elected officials. People involved in historic preservation are the least likely to keep the need for it balanced against the other needs of the community.

    I don't think there's a separation of powers issue. To me it is like a zoning change.
  • I completely agree with the urbanophile.
  • As a resident of Broad Ripple, this news makes me so happy. We need much more of this type of development in Broad Ripple. There is soooo much potential here. The abandoned Marathon on the corner of college and westfield is a prime location that I hope a developer will do something with next.
  • Alright Urbanophile, I will agree that in the past the IHPC has been susceptible the strong arm tactics of neighborhood leaders and that has resulted in lower densities in the past. However it is clear that the IHPC has been moving away from this. Look at 757 Mass Ave, 500 Walnut, the redevelopment of the Lamp Gallery (for which the IHPC was threatened with a lawsuit by the single family proponents), Landmark of Lockerbie, and North Lockerbie (where the IHPC told the developer that the density of the initial proposal was too low).

    Secondly, I agree that the historic districts can drive up housing prices, but I think that general development in downtown has the biggest driver of rising housing prices. The IHPC has been around for decades and it wasn't until the early 2000s when prices began to be driven up significantly. That time period coincides with the recent period of significant new development downtown.

    Third, when I refer to the IHPC's expertise I am largely referring to their professional staff. However, some commissioner are also experts and during the nominating process for new commissioners both Historic Landmarks Foundation and the Indianapolis chapter of the American Institute of Architects have input.

    Last, I agree that historic preservation is only one community value that must be balanced against others. That balance is determined not in the commission hearings but in the creation of the law creating the commission. Fundamentally, a legislative body, such as the City-County Council, is responsible for making laws not enforcing them or making quasi-judicial determinations. In fact, more often in government that community values balance is made by an appointed administrative official than by elected officials. Further, if you think the IHPC is overly influenced by activist neighborhood leaders what until you see the pandering that would occur with the City-County Council in charge.

    Finally as a side note. I check the Urbanophile blog daily and usually enjoy, agree with and applaud you content. I believe in high density urban development. But I also believe that without the IHPC this city and the development we have would be far far worse off.
  • This has been a great discussion about all sorts of topics other than the one at the top....Monon Place. It's all worthwile though.
    As for Monon Place itself, it's heartening to see such positive response. This is a development most cities would offer incentives for...and Buckingham is doing this totally on their own. Now let's just hope they fulfil their promise and build what the conceptual drawings have promised.
  • DRT- Got ya. Well, can't say that I disagree too much. However, all rezonings follow three steps that can be appealed at any time during the process... Hearing Examiner, MDC, City Council. I'm sure that this proposal will be appealed to the Council. Variances, as well as anything else that gets heard by the BZA, are not eligible for appeal after they are denied or approved, except by civil action. I would suspect that this Monon Place would probably be appealed to the CCC, but it will only be heard if a Cuncilor calls it up for a vote.
  • The best part of the Monon Place hearing was the one remonstrator who stood up and said, We don't want or need sidewalks. We share the road with the cars. This was after the previous remonstrator had just said what an unsafe condition this could pose for pedestrians. Interesting...
    The main remonstrator also, during rebuttal, talked about how kids dart out from between parked cars and can be threatened by on-street parking. He then went on to start talking about how his son had been born a little person and no one would see him. He then broke down in tears and walked out of the room. Some serious drama there...
  • BW:

    Wow, just...wow. Words fail me.
  • JAK, one thing is for sure, all too often that IHPC is the only thing that stands between the city and a truly awful design. I did a series comparing 757 Mass Ave (in a historic district) and the Villagio (outside a historic district) which noted this. However, I was told by a developer representative that 757 Mass Ave. had to submit no fewer than 21 designs to get through the approval process. That's too many. 500 Walnut had to cut the number of proposed units by 44% to get approved - that's an amazing density reduction. They've got to amortize the land cost over far few units, significantly raising prices.

    I'd be much more supportive of the IHPC if they stuck to bona fide historic preservation and stayed out of the land use business. The staff is much better than the commission, so I'm with you on that one.

    So probably the IHPC process has been a positive for some areas of town over time, but is now becoming more of a millstone around the neck of downtown development.

    My strong preference would be to landmark individuals structures versus creating large districts.
  • Finally, some positive development for a broad ripple that has been stuck in no change land for far too long. Now, if we could only get some more parking in br, we'd be in good shape.
  • It would be fascinating if IBJ would research the occupancy of high
    density (housing) structures in Marion county. List the percentage of
    units occupied and those vacant. List median incomes of the occupants and
    complete demographic information on those occupants. That would be a
    great way to convince (or not convince) people of the need for high densification
    in their neighborhood. I live in the Mapleton-Fall Creek area and, though I
    have never done an exact count, I can think of at least 12 high density
    residential structures (in an area where one would imagine high density
    housing would be popular) that sit completely vacant and in disrepair.
  • The best part of the Monon Place hearing was the one remonstrator who stood up and said, “We don’t want or need sidewalks. We share the road with the cars.” This was after the previous remonstrator had just said what an unsafe condition this could pose for pedestrians. Interesting…
    The main remonstrator also, during rebuttal, talked about how kids dart out from between parked cars and can be threatened by on-street parking. He then went on to start talking about how his son had been born a little person and no one would see him. He then broke down in tears and walked out of the room. Some serious drama there…

    Oh please let there be video of this somewhere...
  • Video - 6/4/08

  • I do tend to agree that the neighborhood groups seem to hold the IHPC over barrels. I share the frustration with those here that feel that the the residents in the historic downtown neighborhoods don't fully get it. They would prefer single-family dwellings, instead of density creating projects. The cost of living downtown is so damn high and the more they demand low-density, the higher the costs will be to the eventualy buyer.

    As for Broad Ripple as a whole, I personally would love to see it develop similarly to Atlanta's Buckhead area. Just think if we could get some good 4-8 story buildings that would add density? This would help to stablize the Glendale area and hopefully prompt transit to eventually follow!
  • CoryW, Atlanta gets a horribly bad rap for urban planning because of its horrible traffic and sprawl, but I agree that the city of Atlanta provides a great model for what Indianapolis could do. It was a similar sized state capital until recently, and was developed at more or less the same scale as Indy. They've seen enormous, market driven densification of the central city and a massive influx of people. In fact, one of the main sources of political tension now is the concern by some African Americans that whites are on the verge of becoming a majority in the city again and could retake the mayoralty. Like most cities in the south, Atlanta is very pro-development, and does not let a handful of nay-sayers derail projects. They are also ambitious and forward thinking about what they want to accomplish with their city. Plus they've got heavy rail transit and a well-patronized bus system.
  • ROFL. I just watched the video. The lead remonstrator's last comment is so classy.
  • CoryW: I don't think YOU really get it. If you owned a historic home would YOU
    want a 4-8 story building developed next to it? As I mentioned before. . .
    show me that the market is driving heavier densification and I'll zip my trap.
  • Uh, the fact that developers are proposing denser projects paid for with their own money and no subsidies shows that the market is driving it.
  • just because a house is old does NOT make it 'historic'
  • That video is priceless. What great comedy, especially the classy comments at the end. Thank you for posting the link TinyTim.
  • What?! You're trusting developers to dictate the need for densification? Isn't
    that the logic that has put the country in a housing crisis. I want statistics
    telling me how many existing apartments/condos/townhomes are occupied now.
    If the percentage of filled units justifies development then develop.
  • Well, most of us have seen those numbers in the 90-90% range, which pretty much justifies new development.
  • The Zender and Dorfman apartments immediately to the north have vacancy rates of less than 5%.
  • Why would a developer build a 3 story (not 4-8 by the way) apartment building if they didn't think people would live there? That makes no sense.
  • I want statistics telling me how many existing condos/townhomes are occupied now.

    And I want statistics on the annual yearly rainfall in Nigeria.

    Your request and my request would have equal amounts of relevance to the justification of APARTMENTS being built.
  • Does anyone know when this project will actually get underway? With the two condo projects languishing on Winthrop I hope it's soon. We can stand some truly positive development like this one. Thanks.
  • Per the Indy Star....Construction should begin in spring 2009 with the first tenants moving into the new apartments that fall.
  • Matthew-

    I am a planner by education and trade. I am the planning director for a suburban county. I do see your side, but having once been a planner for Indpls I have witnessed first-hand numerous projects proposed in the Broad Ripple area that the neighborhood groups refused to even consiuder based off of density alone. It's very unfortunate. Besides, there are many bungalow neighborhoods in teh City if you wish to remain in a medium-density area.
  • It bears mentioning that the Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA), which is the most established of the many BR neighborhood groups, did support this petition.
  • Comparing the need for apartments versus the ridiculousness of overbuilding sprawling single-family subdivisions across this country is like comparing apples to baby pugs. I, for one, am very glad to see the MDC approve this development. The market will support these apartments just fine.

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.