Developer wins MDC approval for $168M project near Fashion Mall

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Alexander at the Crossing would include 275 apartment units along 86th Street with retail space on the ground floor. (Image courtesy of Keystone Corp.)

A city commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to support the expansive redevelopment of about 16 acres west of the Fashion Mall at Keystone despite pushback from the property’s neighbors.

Indianapolis-based Keystone Corp. plans to spend at least $168 million to develop a new mixed-use district at the northeast corner of Haverstick Road and East 86th Street, directly across from the Ironworks at Keystone development.

The Alexander at the Crossing project was advanced by the Metropolitan Development Commission on a 7-0 vote. It will next be considered for final approval by the City-County Council.

The company’s plan calls for apartment, retail and office structures, along with about 35 townhouses and a new hotel. The entire eastern edge of the property will retain a line of trees.

Keystone plans to consolidate zoning for the site from the D-P and D-A designations to solely D-P, which allows for mixed-use developments.

As part of its presentation, Keystone shared previously undisclosed preliminary investments for some of the development’s components: $82.5 million for the apartments, $10.5 million for townhouses, $25 million for the hotel and $15 million for office buildings.

The recommendation for approval—in line with a recommendation last week from the city’s planning staff—followed a hearing in which residents of the Driftwood Hills neighborhood adjacent to the property urged the MDC to vote against the project.

About five individuals opposed to the project spoke, with many pointing to concerns about traffic and continued commercialization of a largely residential section of the 86th Street corridor. The neighbors said the project also far exceeds what is called for in the city’s Comprehensive Plan and that the developers didn’t communicate their plans in a timely or effective manner.

“This is a direct threat to the city’s comprehensive plan, and its rules of guidance laid down … by your predecessors,” said Jim Heaney, conservation chair for Driftwood Hills. “A dangerous precedent is before you. The fence commercialization of the north side of East 86th Street, west of Keystone, and the destruction of the Comprehensive Plan will haunt the city of Indianapolis and the MDC for years to come. It reminds me of [the movie] ‘Groundhog Day.’”

Keystone has sought to build on the land—once a densely wooded area—for more than 10 years, but has generally been met with pushback from nearby residents each time, including a 2020 court victory for Driftwood Hills over the previously proposed project. The site was initially rezoned to commercial in 2005 as part of a proposed big-box store and townhouse project, but the development never moved forward.

Jennifer Pavlik, chief of staff for Keystone, said in a statement that the company is “very thankful to have had support from city planning department, MDC, city councillors representing this area as well as neighborhood groups. We are excited to bring a meaningful transformational development that we believe will enhance the neighborhood, attract talent and families, and be a place so many people in the community will enjoy.”

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13 thoughts on “Developer wins MDC approval for $168M project near Fashion Mall

  1. Cities die when suburbs don’t prioritize high and medium density projects. Parking lots and high-speed city streets are death – literally, and financially.

  2. Once upon a time the developer wanted to put a Whole Foods in this spot. One grocery store. Maybe my neighbors should have agreed to it.

    1. NIMBY’s generally always lose in the end. So much more productive to work with a developer on a compromise. Keystone has owned the land for a long time. They have every right to develop it, just like the homeowners across the street have every right to tear down their home and build a new one. If their new home requires approvals or variances from the city then they have to get them. And if their neighbors oppose it, they can work on a compromise. Just trying to shut down everything all the time will backfire in your face.

  3. The developer owns the land and technically should be able to build whatever they please on it. Secondly, if this sort of development bothers you, why would you even consider moving to the area in the first place? 86th has always been a mix of neighborhoods, offices, shopping centers and traffic for years. Shouldn’t surprise anyone that more development would come. I suggest sale your home and move further out to the suburbs.

    1. Zoning has been around for, I believe it’s been 100 years now since the U.S. Supreme Court first upheld it as a legitimate local government power. So, saying a landowner should be able to build whatever they please goes against an entire century of legal precedent. The MDC approved it, and that might well be the right decision (I haven’t seen any details of the proposal nor did I watch the hearing), but that doesn’t mean that neighbors shouldn’t have the opportunity to provide their input and/or objections. Had they offered legitimate objections (I don’t know if they did), the MDC should’ve acted accordingly in exercising their authority to change the zoning. The outcome presumes the objections weren’t legitimate. Reasonable people can agree or still disagree.

  4. The objections have it correct. Traffic in that area is already terrible and this promises to make it much worse. Anyone who regularly travels across 86th street knows that in late afternoon, every day, traffic is backed up from near NC high school to well past Dean Road. This will not help and staff should know better.

    1. Traffic congestion is to be found in every vibrant area. Trying to prevent development just because traffic isn’t free-flowing for a couple hours per day will prevent creation of a thriving and economically sustainable community that can provide the tax revenue needed to maintain public infrastructure and services. If development is prevented here, it will be pushed farther out of the city and will just require drivers to travel even greater distances to get to destinations and cause even more congestion in the metro area as a whole.