An Indianapolis zoning appeals board on Tuesday afternoon approved the necessary variances that likely will allow a controversial mixed-used parking garage and retail project to be built in Broad Ripple.
Pending a 30-day appeals period, developer Keystone Construction Corp. is ready to start construction on the $15 million, three-story garage at the three-way intersection of Broad Ripple and College avenues, and Westfield Boulevard. A vacant gas station and a pizza shop now occupy the site.
The city is helping finance the 350-space garage with $6.3 million in parking meter revenue.
“We’re taking an eyesore and turning it into what will meet a community need,” said Keystone’s attorney, Joe Calderon. “Is it perfect? No. We wish we could do more, but we can’t.”
Calderon said Keystone is hamstrung by the small, triangular 1.3-acre site.
Keystone will construct the building without a required 70-foot setback and no loading spaces for deliveries. Instead, the parking garage will front the streets and be separated only by sidewalks, with street-side loading on College Avenue.
Also, nine parking spaces in the parking garage will be reserved for compact cars and will be smaller than the 9-foot minimum-width requirement for garage spaces.
But perhaps most controversial to the project is a plan to include a bank and a drive-through, which neighbors contend will substantially increase traffic in the area.
Attorney Steve Mears, who represents several area business owners, including Broad Ripple Animal Clinic, spoke against the plan.
The developer has yet to line up a bank for the site, prompting Mears to ask that it drop the drive-through from site plans.
“When this location was announced in June,” he said, “my clients were very concerned.”
The drive-through also has drawn some criticism from the Broad Ripple Village Association, which mostly supports the project.
Tom Healy, a board member of the association, said the parking garage will take an eyesore and turn it into an asset, creating a gateway into the neighborhood.
“We want this to be more than just a car barn,” he said, “and we feel we’re headed in the right direction.”
The city 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 and ultimately picked from seven options, including bids by powerhouse local developers Kite Realty Group, Browning Investments and Buckingham Cos.