An Indianapolis developer plans to further develop the site of the Broad Ripple parking garage on College Avenue with the addition of nearly 70 apartments and a new home for Purdue Polytechnic High School North.
Keystone Corp. is in the early stages of the project, which would replace the former Chase Bank branch in the 6200 block of College Avenue with a new five-story building. The first three stories would be used by Purdue Polytechnic, and the top two—which also would extend over the adjacent 348-space parking structure—would contain 69 apartments.
The land was acquired by Keystone from Chase in 2017 for about $300,000. The developer declined to disclose a projected cost for the new project.
Owned by Keystone, the $15 million public parking garage opened in 2013 as part of a public-private partnership that included a contribution of more than $6 million from the city of Indianapolis.
Purdue Polytechnic North is outgrowing its current home at 1405 Broad Ripple Ave., where it moved ahead of the 2019-2020 school year. The high school leases the building from Keystone.
“We’ve had a great partnership with Purdue on their north Indianapolis campus, and see this as a great fit for not only the school, but the Broad Ripple community,” Jennifer Pavlik, vice president and chief of staff for Keystone, told IBJ. “This is really about furthering that partnership and giving [Purdue] an opportunity to continue doing what they what they’ve set out to do.”
Purdue would occupy about 33,000 square feet—enough room for up to 400 students—in the new structure, with plans to open the new school by the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. The school would have a dedicated entry along College Avenue, as well as a drop-off area on the third floor of the parking garage. Currently, the school has 145 students, most of whom are freshmen and sophomores.
“It’s a great location for our student base, and it’s relatively easy to get to,” Purdue Polytechnic Executive Director Scott Bess said. “The only problem we have is we are outgrowing the current space. So, when Keystone said, ‘Hey we think we’ve got a solution in this new development that allows [you] to stay in Broad Ripple, at an even more visible location,’ we jumped at the chance.”
Most of the apartments would sit atop the parking structure on new fourth and fifth floors. They would range from studios to three-bedroom units, with rents comparable to other nearby properties like The Coil and River House, which generally run from the low $1,000s to low $3,000s. The apartment units largely would be recessed from the rest of the structure.
At least 37 spots in the parking garage would be reserved for apartment residents, with another 68 parking spaces for school faculty—including 17 in a lot that would be located behind the school, according to preliminary plans for the project. Pavlik said Keystone is continuing to work with the school and BRVA to determine parking needs.
About 20 spaces in the garage are already used for Enterprise car rentals, and another 80 are earmarked for a new office development now in the works across College Avenue.
Multiple commercial users also have space in the parking structure, including the Hop Cat restaurant and bar that anchors the retail space on the first level of the garage.
Keystone has presented plans for the project to the Broad Ripple Village Association land use committee twice—in December and January—and plans to do so again Feb. 23, when it hopes to receive approval for the project. If approved, the plans will advance to the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission for consideration.
Keystone hopes to rezone the property involved in the project to MU-2, for mixed-use development, and a variance to allow for a building taller than 35 feet to be built on the property.
BRVA has asked Keystone to conduct a traffic study for College Avenue and its intersection with Westfield Boulevard, which Pavlik said is now under way.
“Obviously there’s concerns (about traffic), but we’re looking to address those,” she said, noting the garage is seldom used during the day, when the school would be in session. “The BRVA wants density, they want the Red Line to be used. We’re trying to bring all those things together, which the school would do.”
Purdue’s Bess said he anticipates about 40% of the students at the school would utilize IndyGo’s rapid-transit Red Line along College Avenue for transportation, while the rest would be dropped off by parents or drive themselves. But he said he has little concern the added traffic will cause lingering problems in Broad Ripple.
“We’ve been working with Keystone to figure out ways to really allow parents to get into the garage quickly,” he said, adding that drop-off traffic is likely to be staggered throughout the morning and in the afternoon because of clubs and other extracurricular activities.
Kent Springer, interim executive director of the BRVA, said the organization is continuing to work closely with the school and Keystone on resolving looming traffic and parking concerns.
“It’s good because a fair amount of their students take the bus, with the Red Line station right in front of the building,” he said. “We’re kind of working for details with them” on ensuring traffic flow isn’t obstructed.
But David Brunner, owner of the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic adjacent to the parking garage along Westfield Boulevard, said he isn’t so sure.
“This could destroy the traffic in Broad Ripple,” he told IBJ on Monday. “We already have clients who are complaining about the traffic as it is. And this is going to be doing nothing but cause further problems.”
According to Keystone, about 14 cars can be stacked on the third level for drop-off and pick-up, and some drivers may opt to park to wait for their students, either on the first floor or the upper levels.
Keystone is working with Brunner on a variety of commitments tied to his business in particular, including concerns about loading areas and staging spaces for construction.
He said while he is supportive of the apartment component of the project, the school’s location along such a busy thoroughfare gives him pause. Even so, he said, he does not plan to fight the project tooth-and-nail once it gets out of the BRVA’s purview.
“I’m not a crusader—I’m worried about my business, with the traffic,” he said. “They can build whatever they want behind me. It’s the traffic study that has to be done. If it says, ‘Yeah we can do this, and it’s not going to adversely affect the traffic flow in the area,’ well, then bring it on.”
Indianapolis firm CSO Architects is the design firm on the project.