Entrepreneur plans restaurant, recreational project in Broad Ripple

The Monon Yard project as seen from Westfield Boulevard. (Rendering courtesy of Delv Design)

A local entrepreneur plans to redevelop the former Broad Ripple Steakhouse restaurant site and an adjacent property into a multi-tenant dining concept and outdoor recreation area known as Monon Yard.

The development at 927 and 929 Westfield Boulevard, adjacent to the Monon Trail, would include numerous shipping containers and a long-vacant bungalow. The containers would feature a variety of food concepts and seating areas, while the bungalow would contain a restaurant or tap house.

The containers would replace the former steakhouse building and wrap the property in an L-shape, with a large courtyard space with artificial turf on the interior that could be used for recreation and adult sports leagues such as bocce, cornhole and curling.

John Pantzer, owner and CEO of CCA Sports, an Indianapolis-based adult recreational sports league management company, is developing Monon Yard with an undisclosed partner. He presented the project during a meeting of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s land use committee on Tuesday night.

The steakhouse building dates to the early 1900s and at various times was a boarding house and hotel. Broad Ripple Steakhouse spent more than two decades there, starting in the late 1980s. The building’s last occupant, Ripple Inn, replaced the steakhouse in 2010 and closed two years later.

“We think it can activate a corner that’s been dark for several years,” Pantzer told IBJ. “It’s been kind of an eyesore, along with being an area that needs some attention.”

The interior of the Monon Yard project (Rendering courtesy of Delv Design).

Pantzer purchased the property in January 2016 for $790,000 as part of an initial attempt to redevelop it with two traditional-built structures: a restaurant and an office building. But he later withdrew those plans due to overruns that upped the development cost to nearly $10 million.

“We’re looking for a lower impact investment that can monetize and utilize the site,” he said. “We’re pretty positive on the concept overall and think the city will be positive on it as long as BRVA supports it.”

He said a price tag for the new development has not yet been finalized, but said it’s certain to be lower than that of the previous design.

Most of the feedback offered by the committee was positive, although some members indicated they’d like to see more street-side activation along Winthrop Avenue.

Pantzer said that would be taken under consideration, but indicated the design was meant to block noise at the property from polluting nearby apartment buildings and to offer passersby a look at the site without disrupting the curb cut. There is also an enclosed patio that faces the Monon on the east side of the property.

Shipping container-focused commercial development is a relatively foreign concept in Indianapolis. However, some single-family homes have been constructed locally using shipping containers or modular steel designs, and a new apartment project called the Pando Aspen Grove also is under construction using the method.

Indianapolis-based Integrated Modular Construction, a firm that specializes in build-to-suit projects using shipping containers and modular steel, has been consulted on the project, but Pantzer said the firm has not yet been formally contracted for construction.

Monon Yard would utilize about seven shipping containers, including two 20-foot containers and five 40-foot containers. Some containers will be stacked to create a second level, offering a mix of open air and closed-in dining and lounge space. The project also could be used for outdoor movie showings and live music performances.

The Monon Yard project as seen from Winthrop Avenue. (Rendering courtesy of Delv Design)

The bungalow home will be used for a grilled gourmet sausage eatery, the developer said. It will be able to seat at least 25 people inside, and will feature a deck with a pergola and outdoor seating.

The project will not have dedicated parking areas, instead relying on street parking and a mix of pedestrian and bicycle traffic from the Monon Trail and elsewhere in Broad Ripple.

The land use committee is expected to offer its recommendation on the project to the city. The city is likely to take up the matter early next year, as Pantzer looks for variances tied to parking space requirements. The property is already zoned to allow the proposed use.

A construction timeline has not yet been finalized.

Indianapolis firm Delv Design is the architecture firm on the project.

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22 thoughts on “Entrepreneur plans restaurant, recreational project in Broad Ripple

    1. Yeah, your idea for that property – and your willingness to put your own money on the line for it – was both better and courageous.

    2. With exterior/interior finishes the container is just the base structure. Exterior facades could blend it into the surroundings or provide a tasteful contrast. And it is Broad Ripple, who is not for sustainable reuse?

    1. Agreed. If only Oak & Ivy would take one of those spots – that is the best bourbon spot I’ve ever seen.

  1. My parents used to rent the building back in the 1970s and operated an antique shop called “The Old Fashioned Shop”. There were there for several years before their lease expired and they moved to a different location. They closed entirely about 3 years after the move.

    1. I hear you, but it’s been an eyesore for too long. Guessing it is in a bit of a shamble if Monkey’s Tale is any indication.

  2. This is exactly what Broad Ripple needs!!! unique creativity that has worked in cities like Austin, Las Vegas, Portland etc. A wonderful vision and pragmatic development for the future

    1. Austin has an establishment like this on Rainey street and it is superb. Nicholas F needs to expand his horizons

  3. It is a cool concept, but nothing has street front appeal like a corrugated cargo container (sarcasm). Plus this will be the first winter since 1918, where that much outdoor space will get any use at all.

  4. glad to see this area really become the hipster part of town it claims to be. this and manyn other concepts should always come to this area to see if it catches on. i have no idea why some folks always like to ridicule things they’re not use to or anything thats different from your norm makes Indy a boring and typical city. the ironic thing of it is that if you vist a concept like this in another city you would have folks praising how fun and unique the experience was but if Indy tries to step out the norm and be creaitive you get alot of negative feedback. this is what separate cool and hip cities from lame and less than desirable cities. indy is a cool city thirsty for a concept and many more like this. if nothing else areas like broad ripple,mass ave and fountain sq should always be looking for new and cool concepts like this. hope it comes to reality.

    1. With grammar, spelling and punctuation as displayed here you should consider becoming a columnist for the Indy Star.

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