The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday gave approval to a local developer’s plans to construct a $40 million apartment complex adjacent to Glendale Town Center.
The MDC voted to approve a request by Kite Realty Group Trust to rezone 5.7 acres of land on the west and east sides of the 6200 block of Rural Street, along with a request to modify 50-year-old covenants related to the site’s development.
The approvals—which came in separate, 8-1 votes—allow the Indianapolis-based firm to move forward with plans for seven apartment buildings of three and four stories containing 267 total units. The project is expected to be built in partnership with local apartment developer Milhaus.
The approvals lift the biggest hurdles facing the project. It still requires some standard zoning changes and permit approvals. Kite hasn’t said when construction will start on the development.
“We appreciate the support of the neighboring community and the Metropolitan Development Commission, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we develop the next phase of Glendale,” Mark Jenkins, senior vice president of Kite, said in an email to IBJ.
Kite has been eyeing redevelopment of the land for several months, publicly acknowledging in May it would like to build apartments on parking lots next to and across Rural Street from the mall.
A four-story building would be constructed on the parking lot west of Rural, directly next to the mall. Six additional buildings would be built on the east side of the road. The project is expected to also include parking and various amenities for residents.
“We have engaged and we have listened, and we are providing a project that will benefit the neighbors,” said Joseph Calderon, an attorney for Kite and Milhaus who presented their request during the MDC hearing.
The developers have agreed to multiple concessions requested by residents living directly east of the project, in the Riddle Manor area.
The consensus of those residents is that they’re supportive of “responsible development” on the site, said Dan Henkel, a neighbor who has worked toward agreements with the project developers.
“Neighbors have a whole variety of reactions, and I can’t speak for everybody, but the consensus is we want Glendale to thrive; we think it’s important for the vitality of our community to continue to have development,” he said. “We just want to make sure it’s done right.”
About five neighbors or area residents spoke in opposition to the project during Wednesday’s meeting.
The land on which the complex would be built—on both sides of Rural Street—has been an overflow lot for the mall for more than 50 years. In 1969, the land was subject of an agreement known by neighbors as the Parol Covenants, which barred any development there by current or future owners.
The updated agreement requires the developer to include neighborhood input on landscaping, the addition of evergreen trees near a wall that separates the parking lot from the residential properties, and a promise by the developers to share plans for the complex’s design with neighbors and receive input.
The covenant changes only apply to the north portion of the parking lot, owned by Kite. The southern portion is owned by Lowe’s (although Kite has indicated it would like to acquire the property) and is still subject to the previous Parol Covenants.
Kite also said it would support an effort by neighbors to secure improvements to the intersection of Rural Street and Kessler Boulevard, which residents say is dangerous.
Even so, neighbors have said they are concerned the added density—about 60 units per acre—will only exacerbate traffic issues. They also said they are worried cars will use nearby streets in lieu of Rural, potentially leading to additional crashes near its intersection with Kessler.
“We’d like to have Rural Street be calmer, traffic-wise; more inviting,” said Calderon. “We see it more as a neighborhood street, and we can accomplish a lot of that on our own,” in addition to through a partnership with the city.
Calderon said an apartment project with lower density would not be feasible for the site.
Improvements to the right of way not owned by Kite are expected to be considered by the city.
In a letter to the MDC, Department of Public Works Director Daniel Parker committed to “undertake an expanded study” of Rural and Kessler, “to determine if there are any additional improvements that should be and are able to be implemented to positively impact the level of service and increase overall safety” at the intersection.
Kite’s plan also includes updates to part of the former Macy’s space in the mall, splitting about 50,000 square feet of the former department store into four different storefronts. No zoning changes are required for that separate but related $15 million project.
Calderon said the development of the apartment complex could help rethink the Glendale mall property, particularly as big box stores lose favor with consumers.
The mall as people remember it “is not coming back,” he said. “That parking lot is barren—it’s all asphalt. We’re improving it, investing in it.”