A pair of commercial real estate brokers are proposing to tear down two rental homes they own in the 5900 block of North College Avenue to build a two-story office building .
Scott Lindenberg and Thomas Willey, who operate Reliant Partners Commercial Realty on Westfield Boulevard in Broad Ripple, say they plan to invest $1.5 million in the 5,700-square-foot project.
The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission is set to consider their plans Wednesday. The two already have received the blessing of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s development committee, which voted 10-1 to support the project.
“For us, building density and activity at key commercial nodes is an important part of the Envision Broad Ripple plan,” said Brooke Klejnot, executive director of the BRVA.
The two rental homes that would be torn down are at 5915 and 5925 N. College Ave., just north of the building that formerly housed Fox Studios and is now home to the Ambrosia restaurant and the Haus Love home décor and clothing store. Across the street is Binkley’s Kitchen & Bar.
Lindenberg and Willey bought the bungalows that they describe as “rough” last summer with the intent to redevelop the properties. They say they’ve alerted the tenants—one of whom plans to move out in March—of their plans.
“This is sort of a kick-off building for us,” Willey said. “We would like to do more [development], maybe up to a three-story multi-use project.”
But they’ve run into some resistance getting their first attempt off the ground.
The Metropolitan Development Commission’s hearing examiner last month recommended the MDC deny the project, citing concerns that additional commercial development along the College Avenue corridor will lead to the “overall detriment” of Broad Ripple.
The hearing examiner’s report pointed out that the potential exists for the two homes to be converted to commercial use without tearing them down.
The examiner's recommendation seems to be out of step with the priorities of Broad Ripple Village leadership, given that the Envision Broad Ripple plan endorses commercial activity at key intersections. The property is just north of Kessler Boulevard.
“Our interpretation [of Envision Broad Ripple] is that a commercial node should be treated differently than mid-block residential areas, particularly on these arteries that have potential for mass transit,” Klejnot said.
In the meantime, Lindenberg and Willey have altered their plans in hopes of improving the chances for approval.
They’ve scrapped a zoning change request for about 3,000 square feet of first-floor retail. They now are seeking zoning that would allow a retail use occupying up to 10 percent of the square footage, in this case 570 square feet. The two also have agreed to lower the height of the building by 8 inches, bringing it to between 22 and 23 feet, and to include more landscaping and a buffer in the form of a green wall of vegetation.
The changes seem to have appeased the Department of Metropolitan Development, which is recommending that MDC approve the project.
“When evaluated in its entirety, staff believes that the merits of this petition, as amended, would slightly outweigh the proposal’s drawbacks, unlike the request before the hearing examiner, which staff did not support,” DMD staff wrote a report.
Lindenberg and Willey’s Reliant Partners brokerage is temporarily located in Loftus Robinson’s new Rockdale development at 6334 Westfield Blvd. in Broad Ripple. If their project is approved and built, Lindenberg and Willey plan to move Reliant Partners to the new development.
“It’s an area we want to be in,” Lindenberg said of Broad Ripple. “We live in the area and we want to stay in the area.”
The architect on the project is locally based One 10 Studio.