Initial design unveiled for new $20M Broad Ripple Park family center

An early-stage rendering of the proposed Broad Ripple Park Family Center. (Image courtesy Context Design)

Initial designs for the nearly $20 million Broad Ripple Park family center were unveiled Tuesday night, during a public input session for the project hosted by the Indianapolis Parks & Recreation Department.

The project—part of a $70 million master plan for the park approved last year—is expected to feature a 40,000-square-foot building in place of the existing park center. Indy Parks officials have said the current 11,000-square-foot facility is too small to meet the growing demand for space.

About 80 citizens attended Tuesday’s meeting and heard from project architects and parks officials about the significance of the development and some of the design choices under consideration. Attendees also had an opportunity to provide feedback either in writing or directly to designers and city representatives.

“Folks show up when it’s (about) Broad Ripple, and that’s great,” said Indy Parks Director Linda Broadfoot. “Anytime you can get a room filled with people who care enough about their parks to take the time, that’s a good thing.”

The new, two-level facility is expected to house a gymnasium, group meeting space, a children’s play area and a 15,000-square-foot health center operated by Community Health Network.

The Indianapolis-based architectural firm ArcDesign and Chicago-based Williams Architects are the leads on the project. Context Design is the landscape architect and local firm Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. is the civil engineer. Fishers-based Meyer Najem Construction is the project’s construction manager.

The family center is expected to cost about $19.65 million to construct and will be owned by BR Health Holdings LLC. The parks department and Community Health will each enter long-term leases for their respective parts of the building, although the parks department will retain ownership of the land on which the structure is built.

Broadfoot said the department expects to eventually buy the building from BR Health outright through a clause included in a contract now being negotiated between those parties and the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development.

The groups began negotiations in April after the holding company—comprised of officials from Community Health and local firm Avenue Development—won a public bidding process, beating out proposals from Browning Investments and Lauth.

Plans call for a lower level that includes the gym, play area and a divisible, multi-use room. The health center, a two- or three-lane track, administrative areas and the group meeting rooms—ranging from 300 to 1,300 square feet—will be on the upper level.

The family center is among the first parts of the master plan to be implemented, joining the recently-expanded Broad Ripple Dog Park.

According to the architectural team, the design process is about 20% complete. Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2020 and the project could be finished by mid-2021.

The 4.5-acre site in October received rezoning approval, marking a critical milestone for the project. A final project agreement must still be approved by the City-County Council.

But not everybody at Tuesday’s meeting was pleased with the family center proposal.

Some of the renderings and drawings on easels at the meeting had sticky notes on them by the gathering’s end, indicating dissatisfaction over the partnership with Community Heath.

Some area residents have objected to the use of park space for businesses and disputed the need for a new family center. That includes the Broad Ripple Park Alliance, which has repeatedly stated its opposition to the public-private partnership.

Clark Kahlo, a Meridian-Kessler resident who has been active in a variety of development-related groups, including BRPA, said he was not swayed by Tuesday’s discussion. Kahlo said he did not know how many people are supporters of BRPA’s efforts.

“No matter what they say … it’s still an enclosure of public commons,” he said. “No matter how you slice it, they’re going to have private medical offices in there and the public will not have access to that part of the park. I think that’s a terrible precedent.”

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11 thoughts on “Initial design unveiled for new $20M Broad Ripple Park family center

    1. There’s already an old eyesore of a building(park office) there which is underutilized due to its size and lack of amenities. I think replacing it with something on this scale is entirely appropriate. 63% of the building will contain public amenities sorely missing from the park.

    2. As much as I also lament the privatization of public space, I’m okay with this one. It appears that everything in this building will be for public benefit. Given that IndyParks is so painfully underfunded and can’t afford to make capital improvements on its own, I think this is a decent partnership.

  1. This is the only way to get this sort of improvement in Broad Ripple Park. Indy Parks does not have the funds to build such a building. They are not proposing to reduce any green space; just improve the existing family center. I think it is a great solution and does not take funds from the park. The added park amenities in the proposed building that the family center could offer to the community are tremendous. (Additional classes, etc.)

    1. Hardly, site of this building is not even an acre, maybe two out of 60 acres at Broad Ripple Park. The rendering is just that a rendering, situated to show a viewshed , but the building is situated on the same footprint of the current family center, parking lot and other current improvements. There is no plan to clear cut trees from the park. Look at the park Master plan for the tree situation. You will see it is quite committed to tree preservation. http://www.broadrippleparkmasterplan.com/

  2. As if the new apartment building going up to the west isn’t ugly enough, could this be any more bland and bound to fall into an abandoned school type eyesore almost before it’s built. I agree it should be built, but couldn’t we try a little harder to give it some visual life? It will make what goes on inside seem more inviting.

  3. This is a public PARK supported by taxpayers. Building a privately owned facility which will use 38% of the space of this proposed facility is not in keeping with the purpose of a PARK.

    There are numerous health clinics nearby, including the new Jane Pauley clinic at 75th & Shadeland.

    As others have stated, this proposed facility is taking up greenspace and requires removal of trees – both signature items in a PARK.

    Efforts should be made for soliciting donations from both corporate and individual donors, where naming rights to areas, etc. could be granted.

  4. Too bad the new building appears as a 1980-1990’s mediocre school-medical look piece of architecture. Parks usually want to appear a bit more esthetic and have a natural look for their buildings. Another opportunity not properly capitalized upon.