Broad Ripple project gets pushback

The complex would be built at this location and along the canal.
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Developers are eyeing a multi-million dollar, five-story apartment-retail complex in Broad Ripple, but the project is getting some pushback. The complex would sit on 1.9 acres at the northeast corner of College Avenue and the Central Canal.

Browning Investments has proposed an $18 million development which would be located where the former Shell gas station is, along with several apartment buildings along the canal that have a total of 38 units.

Plans call for a 35,000-square foot specialty grocery store, 88 high-end apartments and a 274-space parking garage for residents and shoppers. Browning Investments says it's a great location and that the project would build density and help the local economy.

Jamie Browning, Vice President of Real Estate for Browning said, "We think this goes a long way toward introducing more people to the village."

But not everyone sees it that way.

Rudy Nehrling, president of the Good Earth, a natural food store that's been in Broad Ripple for 42 years says, "it really changes the landscape and feel of Broad Ripple."

The new grocery, rumored to be a Whole Foods, would be 100 yards from the Good Earth. Nehrling says while the location "seems a little bit predatory," it's not the competition that bothers him.

"The biggest issue is the footprint in Broad Ripple," he said. "Broad Ripple is primarily independent businesses, upwards of 80 percent are independent small businesses and it really changes what we would be bringing in with this monster of a building and a huge corporation on the outskirts."

Browning disagreed, saying, "We think what we're proposing is more of a unique urban-style development that will attract a different group of people to the area."

Broad Ripple has long been known for its bars and nightlife. The project definitely has people talking.

Tracy Adamson said, "It's totally out of scale. It looks like a warehouse...or like a bad strip mall."

But Ryan Emrick argued otherwise.

"I think it's an attractive design. It brings a lot to the area," Emrick said. "We have a lack of higher-end apartments in (Broad Ripple) especially with garages on site."

Heather Dupray is one of the people who would have to move if the project gets the green light. She lives in one of the apartment buildings that would come down.

But she also said of the project, "I think it's a good idea. There's so much space here that could be's a nice area and it should be growing."

Justin Steill, who owns the apartments, noted they were built in the 1940s and "are not in the best shape." He said if the project goes through, "tenants will be given plenty of notice...most have been contacted and know what's going on."

The plans need several zoning changes to move forward. The first hearing before the Metropolitan Development Commission is scheduled for May 9th.

Browning said they're also hoping for money from the local tax increment financing district to help pay for infrastructure improvements, something Nehrling also opposes.

"The fact they're asking for local Hoosier tax dollars," he said to draw a corporate store.

Councilor John Barth, who was instrumental in creating a TIF district on the north side said he too is "strongly opposed" to using TIF dollars for the project.

Barth while he supported the development, the TIF dollars are meant "to first fund struggling neighborhoods."

Browning said if the project gets the go-ahead, the earliest they'd break ground is toward the end of the year.

Johnny's Market, by the way, a fresh produce stand adjacent to the old Shell station would not be affected by plans. It will remain open and in its current location.

Broad Ripple introduced a master plan outlining goals for development and infrastructure improvements last year.