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.