Developer scales down plans for massive west-side project after neighbors object

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The land owner and developer who has proposed a massive commercial and residential project on the west side has agreed to scale back the project significantly, after pushback from neighbors and city planners.

The 28-acre Tremont Town Center project proposed for the southeast corner of Rockville and Bridgeport roads, four miles north of the Indianapolis International Airport, initially called for  about 800 apartment units and 500,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The project, still pending city approval, is expected to be scaled down to occupy only about half the acreage—all north of Shiloh Creek.

Updated plans call for nine buildings (compared to the original 14) with about 450,000 square feet of office and retail space, plus senior housing, market-rate apartments and row houses. All told, the project would comprise about 944,000 square feet, versus the original 1.2 million square feet. The maximum number of apartments would be about 400.

Developer Sam Patterson has assembled the property on the western edge of Wayne Township in Marion County over the past few decades, but only embarked on plans to develop the mostly wooded acreage last year. Patterson and a related entity would serve as master developers, seeking other firms to construct the various elements of the project.

The property is currently zoned D-A, D-4, C-3 and C-S, but Patterson has asked for it to be rezoned to MU-2, which allows for mixed-use developments. A variance request has also been submitted to allow buildings of up to 65 feet; commercial buildings exceeding 8,000 square feet; and curb cuts greater than 24 feet. None of those specifications is generally permitted in MU-2 zoning.

The project has received support from Indy Gateway Inc., a community economic development organization on the west side, and Indianapolis City-County Council member Jared Evans, whose district sits directly south of the project. But many residents have opposed the project, with most citing concerns it would bring too much development to an area that’s mostly residential and neighborhood-focused.

Opponents submitted several letters to the city objecting to the project or asking to consult with the developer. Councilor Jessica McCormick, who represents District 15, in which the project is located, did not immediately return a call from IBJ requesting comment.

Steve Alexander, owner of Indianapolis-based architecture firm Prince Alexander, which is designing the project, said principals with Bridgeport East Limited Partnership, which owns the property, have worked closely with neighbors to address concerns.

The commitments from the development team include:

— Any senior housing must have access to on-site amenities.

— Development may only occur north of Shiloh Creek, with a five-year moratorium on development south of the creek.

— A trail must be developed along Shiloh Creek to connect with the Cloverleaf Conservation Area.

— A tree survey is required, in order to incorporate older trees into the design where possible.

— Buildings within 100 feet of existing single-family homes may not exceed three stories, with buildings to the northeast of the site not permitted to exceed five stories. All other buildings may not exceed four stories.

— Housing must be offered at market-rate, with at least 80% of the multi-family portion allotted for studios and one-bedroom units.

— Only one vehicular entrance is allowed along Bridgeport Road.

— The developer must prioritize the development of restaurants and bars that have either rooftop or outdoor dining.

Alexander said Patterson, the only listed principal for Bridgeport, is committed to the project and currently working through potential development costs.

“He’s owned the land with his partners for 30 years,” Alexander said. “And they feel like now’s one of the best times before all of the growth leaves and goes to an adjoining county. So they’re excited about getting it to move forward and show what they intend to do so people can have greater assurances in the quality of the product they’re doing.”

But city planning staff remains generally opposed to the development and is recommending denial of zoning requests for the project. The Metropolitan Development Commission is expected to consider the requests on Wednesday.

Planners pointed to a variety of concerns, including Patterson’s decision to locate retail on the inside of the development, rather than along Rockville or Bridgeport Roads to draw in traffic. They also cite a lack of plans for pedestrian uses, as well as “encroachment into the stream protection corridor; and the lack of consideration of storm water detention.”

“Staff continues to recommend denial despite the reduction in acreage because it does little to address the previously identified concerns,” the staff report reads. “Furthermore, staff continues to be concerned with site access due to jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Transportation related to Rockville Road and the limitations of South Bridgeport Road with no planned improvements for the foreseeable future.”

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