A city commission this week rejected plans for a $40 million apartment project on the south side of Indianapolis after neighbors expressed a flurry of concerns.
The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday voted 6-0 against a recommendation for Homestead Development LLC’s rezoning request for 13.6 acres at 7525 McFarland Blvd. for more than 300 residential units.
As proposed, the development calls for two components: a single 135-unit apartment building for individuals age 55 or older and eight smaller buildings containing a total of 172 market-rate apartments. It would also have extensive parking and include new infrastructure such as sidewalks, a retention pond and a small amount of green space.
The land is a mostly vacant portion of a 26-acre property owned by Southport Presbyterian Church and an affiliated Christian school. Homestead had sought city approval to rezone about 13.6 acres from the SU-1, special use, classification to D-P, which allows for larger planned developments.
The MDC’s rejection must still be approved by the City-County Council, or the council could pursue another avenue to move the project forward.
The council could “call down” the MDC ruling, allowing city officials to meet with remonstrators and Homestead Development in a manner similar to mediation. If no resolution is reached, the council could vote on the measure at the next public meeting.
If no call-down is conducted and the council approves MDC’s decision, the rezoning request would be considered defeated and Homestead would be required to wait one year before refiling a rezoning request on the property.
Department of Metropolitan Development staff, which advises the MDC, recommended approval of the request, while City-County Councilor Michael Dilk wrote a letter opposing the development.
Maryjo Kennelly addressed the MDC during Wednesday’s meeting on behalf of McFarland Farms Neighborhood Association, which represents residents living near the site. About 20 homeowners in the neighborhood attended the meeting.
She said concerns include a lack of green space in the neighborhood, pre-existing drainage problems in Perry Township and an expected bump in traffic volume from the development. Emerson Avenue also is being widened, creating problems for all residents, she said—adding such a project might exacerbate the issue.
Additionally, Kennelly said there are concerns the addition of more residents could weigh heavily on Perry Township’s schools, which average 31 to 35 students per class. The project is also the latest in a series of recent multifamily developments in and near Southport.
Other residents told commissioners they were worried the new apartments would create privacy concerns and negatively affect property values of hers and other homes.
Matt Canterbury, president of Homestead, told the MDC the company was committed to mitigating any drainage issues and would cover the costs of any infrastructure improvements required by the development.
He said the project plan has seen changes since public meetings were held with neighbors and following further discussion with city staff. They include reducing density by 30 apartments, improving walkability, making transit more accessible along Emerson Avenue and the addition of the retention pond to help address drainage problems.
Canterbury told IBJ on Friday that Homestead had no comment on the MDC’s decision.