Vote postponed on controversial Broad Ripple apartment project

The developer of a proposed 164-unit apartment complex in the heart of Broad Ripple said it would consider going back to the drawing board in an effort to get the blessing of some area residents who have concerns about the project.

Indianapolis-based Buckingham Cos. has filed plans to build five-story project on eight parcels of land totaling nearly 1.5 acres between College and Carrollton avenues along a short segment of East 62nd Street, south of the Vogue nightclub. The project would take up about half of the city block.

Plans for the proposed development were heard during a public meeting of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s Land Use & Development Committee on Tuesday night. The meeting was attended by about 35 people.

A vote on the project was initially slated to be taken during the meeting, but was tabled until the group’s next session, on Jan. 22, following a spirited discussion related to the impact the building could have on the neighborhood.

While the BRVA’s vote on the project wouldn't be legally binding, the group’s decisions have historically served as a healthy indication of how city development officials will cast their votes.

The project will ultimately need approvals from Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission as well as the Board of Zoning Appeals. Presentations to those bodies has been delayed until a vote can be cast by the BRVA.

The development, announced in October, encountered extensive opposition during a meeting last month from those living in Broad Ripple. Some of the same concerns were repeated during Tuesday's meeting, including issues over parking to the height of the proposed building to the future of the alley running north-south through the property.

The project, located south of the Vogue nightclub, Lincolnshire Apartments and the Broad Ripple Village Retail Center, would replace several existing commercial spaces with frontage on College or Carrolton avenues. They include a dentist’s office, a hair salon and the New Paradigm Christian Church, among others.

The latest design has the building reaching about 70 feet in height, and the existing alley being altered so its southern entrance is along College Avenue instead of 62nd Street, before turning 90 degrees to the north.

Representatives of Buckingham said during Tuesday’s meeting that they are open to working with neighbors to find middle ground on their concerns. They said that could include additional design changes.

The issue that brought the most comments was the alleyway, with many residents asking the company to consider building over the alley, or on either side of it, removing it or relocating it. The firm indicated it would look into the possibility, but didn’t offer any promises on the request.

Some residents complained about the planned 177 parking spaces, but their was disagreement over whether that was too much or enough parking. One thought less parking was needed because of incoming mass transit options. Another group felt there wasn’t enough parking for the potential number of residents at the facility. Parking on the property is expected to be split between a surface lot, additional parking on the second floor and 10 spots on the north edge of the complex.

Others inquired about why Buckingham adding 18 units to the project compared with its initial plan for 146 apartments. Plans call for 31 studios, 117 single-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom units.

The firm updated its plans for the project in multiple facets following the previous meeting, it said. That included adjusting the property setbacks by about five feet to bring the building more in line with other buildings in the area. Trees and other landscaping were also updated surrounding the building. The facades were updated to help the design fit in well with the surrounding neighborhood.

More commercial space was added to the development, too. An estimated 11,250 square feet of mixed-use retail would be available for rental as part of the group’s effort to “activate” the area along Carrolton Avenue. The ground floor would also include commercial space, a lobby and the leasing offices for the apartments.

Representatives of Buckingham declined to comment following the meeting, and a call to a representative with the company was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

City-County Councilwoman Colleen Fanning, who represents District 2, which includes Broad Ripple, said she thought it was a good idea to delay the vote on the project. She noted she is “cautiously optimistic” about the project eventually getting approved.

“I thought there was some really thoughtful feedback given to the developers,” she said. “I think the neighbors raised really … valid concerns and the developer seemed responsive to that. I think progress was made today.”

Fanning, who also is executive director of the Broad Ripple Village Association, said she expects the much-used alleyway will continue to be a major concern for those living in the area.

"It was no surprise" the alley was an issue, she said.

Buckingham Cos., is seeking to have the area rezoned to C-2, allowing for high-intensity development of all sorts, as well as the merging of several parcels. The plans were filed through Ice Miller LLP for  Buckingham subsidiary BR Housing Partners LLC.

The proposed project, which hasn’t yet been formally named, isn’t the only apartment project in Broad Ripple. The $18.9 million River House Broad Ripple mixed-use project at 6311 Westfield Blvd. was completed this month. The six-story building, near the Monon Trail, has 86 apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail space.  The project was developed by Todd Morris of Birch Tree LLC.

To that project’s north, a $23 million mixed-use property with 130 apartments and an additional 5,000 square feet of retail is also under development. The project at 6364 Westfield Blvd. is being called The Line, a nod to the Hoosier Line train that at one time traveled the Monon. The project will include two buildings four stories in height each—two floors of parking with two floors of apartments on top.

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