MDC rejects rezoning effort for $40M residential project on city’s south side

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Ohio-based Homestead Development is proposing more than 300 apartment units on the south side of Indianapolis. (Rendering courtesy of Homestead Development)

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. 

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12 thoughts on “MDC rejects rezoning effort for $40M residential project on city’s south side

  1. This subdivision is already next to an even larger apartment complex … apartments of the same quality as the existing Sundance complex is about as good as they’re going to get, unless they’re planning on buying the land to make it their own green space.

  2. So we aren’t complaining about affordable housing any more? Or, we still want to complain, we just don’t want in our backyard (or council district)? Right, got it…

    1. Marshall how you can construe that as racism is beyond me. It is truth that the Meadows were originally upscale when they were built and pretty much trash before they were torn down. Screaming racism at everything is ridiculous.

  3. We’re all mature adults with reading and comprehension skills that’s at least on a 5th grade reading level. Its also easy to see that a lot people make some of the most outlandish complaints about certain projects because they really don’t want the type of people that’s assumed to be associated with affordable living. There’s definitely a particular type of undertone implied in the passive aggressive complaints some of the neighbors claim to have. The city is growing and at some point, people just have to deal with it.

    1. Kevin, These are not subsidized apartments. These will be market based apartment and I’m sure well of $1000 month in rent. Maybe you need to re-visit your first sentence on comprehension.

    2. Also note that the neighbors feel entitled to the church’s open green space for their own uses. I call that freeloading.

      Look, the land is for sale and is going to be developed unless the neighbors feel like buying it. The neighborhood is already fronted by numerous hotels, restaurants, small retail, and a 450 unit apartment complex. This development isn’t going to change that.

      I don’t see the neighbors saying what kind of development they want, they just don’t want change. The MDC staff did the right thing in approving this and hopefully the entire CCC approves the development.

  4. So, if you don’t agree with this, you’re a………..all at once A Raciest. Never gets old. Not sure what a 55 and over project has to do with race. Florida is full of them and allegedly that is the land of Racism. All so confusing.