City reaches tentative deal with developer on Broad Ripple Park community, health center

An early-stage rendering of the proposed Broad Ripple Park Family Center. (Rendering courtesy of Context Design)

City officials have reached a tentative lease agreement with a developer planning to build a $20 million community and health care center in Broad Ripple Park.

Developer BR Health Holdings LLC—a partnership between Community Health Network and Indianapolis-based Avenue Development—would own the 40,000-square-foot building, at least initially. It would include a health care center to be operated by Community Health. The Indy Parks and Recreation Department would use the rest of the building.

Indy Parks and Community Health would each enter long-term leases for their respective parts of the building. Indy Parks officials say they plan to include a clause in the contract and lease with BR Health Holdings that will allow the department to buy the building outright after a certain period, while maintaining ownership of the land.

The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission is required to sign off on the tentative deal, along with an eventual project agreement for the entire development. If both are approved, it would clear the project of its final bureaucratic hurdles.

City officials have tentatively scheduled a meeting for April 21—to be conducted electronically due to social isolation protocols—to discuss the proposed lease with the public, an Indy Parks spokesperson told IBJ on Tuesday.

Indy Parks would occupy about 23,500 square feet. IBJ has requested a copy of the lease.

The project is part of a $70 million master renovation plan for the park approved in 2018. The new family center would replace an existing, 11,000-square-foot facility that Indy Parks officials say is too small to meet a growing demand for space.

In addition to health care uses, the two-level facility is also expected to house a gymnasium, group meeting space, a children’s play area, a two- or three-lane track, administrative areas, and a multipurpose room. Initial designs for the project were revealed in November.

A new wrinkle potentially stands in the way of the project. Last week, three north-side property owners filed a lawsuit against both the MDC and BR Health Holdings to halt the project.

The lawsuit, filed April 3 in Marion Superior Court, claims the MDC acted improperly in early March, when it granted permission to the firm for a use not allowed within the park’s current zoning.

Kathryn Rosenberg and James and Susan Walsh, who own properties in the 6200 blocks of Norwalk Avenue and Kingsley Avenue, respectively, are the plaintiffs.

On March 4, the MDC approved a variance to allow for a health care use inside the 40,000-square-foot structure. The property’s PK-1, park, designation generally does not permit health care centers.

Plans for the center has been repeatedly challenged by a small group of individuals within the Broad Ripple community, many of whom claim there is no need for such a facility, and that a public-private partnership is not appropriate.

Collectively, the complainants say construction of the building will cause “immediate and irreparable loss of [their] property values and their use and enjoyment of their homes.”

The MDC’s vote, the complaint alleges, “was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, not in accordance with law and unsupported by substantial evidence.” The allegation hinges on five points the individuals say BR Health failed to adequately demonstrate:

— that the use will not be injurious to the public health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community;

— that the area surrounding the park would not be adversely affected by construction and operation of the building;

— that the need for the variance “arises from some condition peculiar” to Broad Ripple Park;

— that there exists an unusual and unnecessary hardship;

— and that the presence of medical offices in the park does not interfere substantially with the county’s comprehensive plan.

The complaint asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment stating the MDC acted improperly, an order vacating the variance of use and any other relief that is deemed proper.

The city does not comment on pending litigation, according to Ronnetta Spalding, chief communications officer for Indy Parks and Recreation.

Community Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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7 thoughts on “City reaches tentative deal with developer on Broad Ripple Park community, health center

  1. Among many, I believe this “medical” facility is not needed nor desired.
    I wish GOOD LUCK & MUCH SUCCESS to these plaintiffs. I hope IBJ and all other media outlets stay “on top of” this issue.

  2. Isn’t strange that a public park (of which we have little green space in our fair city) should be opened to private development? Thank you to the residents who are fighting this. Couldn’t a health center go into the space where the old MCL was?
    We need our park green space.

    1. You may need to look a bit deeper into the plans. The development would replace an existing building and parking lot. It replaces the old, smaller, and less functional community building with a larger, newer, more equipped community center, which will also house a small healthcare center. The parks department budget did not have the money to renovate/rebuild a new community center, so they are using this partnership to fund the project. We can probably agree that the parks department needs a larger budget from the city in general to fund these kinds of projects, but given the lack of enthusiasm in Indy to put public money towards necessary infrastructure like roads and parks, its not a surprise that there were few options for this project. Stopping this project will not help the park. No usable green space is being lost with this project.

  3. The pandemic underscores the folly of allowing doctors offices to operate on park land. This is not an appropriate use of park land. Community is a flawed partner even if it was. They are under DOJ investigation for Medicare fraud. There are better ways to raise funds—user fees, naming rights, private fund raising (as was done at Holliday Park).
    Community has closed their BR clinic as they don’t want Covid 19 infected persons coming to their clinic. We don’t want them in the park either!
    Tell Community Health Networks they are not wanted in Broad Ripple Park.
    Tell IndyParks to cancel the plan.
    You can take jazzercise classes at the Jordan Y, LA Fitness, or the Rivi.
    A mega Family Center is not needed.
    Tell DMD to vote no on April 21.

    1. It is irrelevant to cite the closing of the Community doctor’s offices in Broad Ripple as reason to oppose a park facility requested by hundreds of local residents during the 2018 master plan process. The Family Center also is closed, as are ALL Indy Parks facilities and ALL non-urgent care medical offices in the entire city.

  4. Parks Dept. says not enough money to expand current facility, but they will pay what appears to be over $900,000 a year in lease payments. I base this on an earlier IBJ story, if it is not correct please make note. We need to know what the parks dept. will pay in rent.
    Also, the DMD ramrods all kind of projects through that benefit developers at the cost to the public. In my dealings with them they have been deceitful as well as secretive, as they have been with others I have been in contact with.

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