Developer has plans for Monon Trail stretch

Developers have plans to put restaurants, a brew pub and coffee shops along the Monon Trail.
Published: .
Updated: .

Plans for a restaurant, brew pub and coffee shop along the Monon Trail are drawing lots of attention.

Developers want to open Bent Rail Brewery on a 1.4-acre site along the 5300 block of Winthrop Avenue, the site of the old Monon Fitness Center.

Site plans also include public restrooms, a concession stand and bicycle hub adjacent to the Monon as well as a beer garden and stage. Supporters, including the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association, say the project will help further revitalize the area, which has seen the addition of new restaurants and shops, especially just north of the Monon on 54th Street.

Opponents argue it will increase traffic, noise and parking problems.

Brittany Sowers works at a vintage market directly north and lives nearby. She's all for it.

"It's a great idea...they'll have a music venue out back and it will be nice for local artists to come and play," Sowers said.

She also thinks it will help "the up and coming area. It needs something like that."

That stretch of Winthrop along the Monon was once largely industrial - houses on the west side, warehouses on the other. In recent years, Developer Town, a business incubator, moved into an old carpet factory.

Brittany Weatherall, who works for Tinder Box, one of the software companies within that space, hopes Bent Rail gets the go-ahead from city zoning.

"Bringing more attention to the area definitely serves our business well," she said.

But a number of people who live nearby oppose the project and have signed petitions hoping to stop it.

One woman, who lives across the street, told Eyewitness News the area was fairly quiet, that she and others enjoyed sitting on their front porches in nice weather. She feared the Bent Rail would change that with the concerts and traffic.

Andy Montgomery, who owns a graphics business just north of the site, said, "The restaurant and brew pub is fine, but I don't think the music needs to be there."

Montgomery also worries the plans don't include enough on-site parking.

"And parking is the biggest problem," he said.

Megan and Cory Johnson, who've lived across the street for nine years said they were once leery, but have since come on board. They said they came to support the project after developers made several changes in response to residents' concerns.

Those changes include limited the number of concerts, reducing capacity and ensuring sound from outdoor concerts doesn't exceed 50 dBA.

The Jeffersons also like the infrastructure improvements that will come with new development, such as "new lighting, streets and sidewalks."

"I think beautification will increase and with investing so much time and money in the neighborhood, it will only increase our property values," Megan said.

The proposal goes before the Metropolitan Development Commission's Hearing Examiner Thursday afternoon. It needs a zoning change to move forward. If it gets the okay, developers say they will break ground in February and open in July.