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Residents have mixed reactions to planned brewery complex on the Monon Trail

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Developers want to transform a vacant fitness center along the Monon Trail into a large restaurant and microbrewery in South Broad Ripple.

The Indianapolis zoning hearing examiner will soon consider a re-zoning plan for 5301 Winthrop Ave. that would pave the way for the Bent Rail Brewery and Coffee House, a restaurant, microbrewery and outdoor beer garden with live music.

Kate Zimmerman and her husband live directly across from the old Monon Fitness Center, where the brewery is proposed.

“We were both thinking that we like the idea of having something fun in our area rather than looking across the street at a blank old building with graffiti on it,” Zimmerman said.

Derek Means and Craig Baker of The Local Eatery & Pub in Westfield would act as co-owners of the brew pub. They said it would seat up to 350 people inside with room for up to 700 people outside.

“We do expect to have live entertainment out there on a limited basis,” Means said.

The owners will also hope to capitalize on the traffic on the nearby Monon Trail. They hope to attract bicyclists by converting a building in the back of the property into a 100-stall bicycle garage that customers can use while they eat and drink.

“It’d be a great place to have lunch and, you know, just hang out with co-workers and friends,” said Amanda Lester, who works inside Developer Town next door.

Means said the brew pub will have roughly 50 parking spaces on site and he said they also have an agreement with Developer Town to share another 100 spaces.

Parking impact is just one of a few concerns Zimmerman and other neighbors have.

“It’s really quiet here at night so we really enjoy it, so we’re a little bit concerned about how busy it can be,” Zimmerman said.

The city planning staff has recommended approval of the plan, but it does not approve of the outdoor music due to the potential impact on the neighborhood.

“I think it could potentially be rough for sleeping schedules and things,” Zimmerman said.

The owners said they have already made plans to control the outdoor sound, but they said they’re more than willing to work with their neighbors.

“We’re anticipating those residents being the bulk of our customer base and if you make those people angry they’re not going to come in and support you and that’s the quickest way to failure,” Means said. “So we want to make sure we’re good neighbors to our neighbors.”

Neighborhood groups have reportedly asked for more time before the plan goes before the zoning hearing examiner. The Metropolitan Development Commission and city county council would have to approve the brewery plan before it could become reality.