Pittman plans for ‘The Farm’ at key Zionsville corner take root

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A $90 million mixed-use development proposed for a prominent Zionsville property sailed past its first hurdle Monday night, winning support from the Zionsville Plan Commission.

The board voted 6-0 to advance a rezoning request for The Farm at Zionsville to the Town Council, which could consider the project at its Aug. 5 meeting.

Developer Pittman Partners LLC wants to transform about 62-acres of land at the southwest corner of Michigan Road and Sycamore Street into a high-end commercial and residential hub. (Read IBJ’s May story on the project here.)

Partner Steve Pittman and a team of consultants laid out the project in a three-hour meeting that reflected the care they intend to take in creating a so-called Gateway District at the edge of the largely residential town.

The Pittman family has owned the residentially zoned land for more than three decades, and the current proposal emerged after years of work.

Plans call for up to 150,000 square feet of retail anchored by a specialty grocery store, plus offices and 400 attached housing units. Pittman’s tenant wish list also includes a breakfast spot, a brew pub and other specialty restaurants.

Six single-family “estate” homes are slated for 15 acres on the western edge of the property, where partner Chad Pittman already lives and the family shares a log cabin vacation home.

An eight-foot-wide trail is planned to provide “pedestrian circulation” through the development, Steve Pittman said, with a “connector” crossing Sycamore Street that could tie the project into Zionsville’s historic downtown to the west.

Connectivity is key, Plan Commission member Larry Jones said, urging the Pittman  to do more to encourage walkability on the site. A purely auto-centric development could divert business from downtown, he said.

Plan Commission Chairman Allan Rachles said officials reviewed correspondence from Zionsville residents who supported and opposed the project. Almost all of those who spoke at Monday’s public hearing, however, praised the plans.

Indianapolis attorney Greg Zubek was the primary dissenter, addressing the panel on behalf of client William Ferree, who lives on Sycamore Street across from the proposed development. Pittman’s plan is “sorely lacking in specificity,” he said, and doesn’t do enough to mitigate the impact on long-time homeowners on the north side of Sycamore.

Commission members peppered the Pittman team with questions, but ultimately agreed with town planning staff who said the proposal fits Zionsville’s long-term land-use plan.

The property is a “premiere gateway to the community, and we want it to be right,” Rachles said.

Pittman would not have carte blanche even if the Town Council approves the zoning change. The Plan Commission must approve specific development plans for the site, which would take shape over the next three to five years. 

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