A new micro-brewery and restaurant has the go-ahead south of Broad Ripple, but the project has divided neighbors due to its size.
The old Monon fitness center at Winthrop Avenue and 53rd St., which is bordered by the Monon trail, will soon become the Bent Rail Brewery, a brew-pub and outdoor beer garden along the trail that will serve up to 600 people inside and out.
The Metropolitan Development Commission approved the plan on Wednesday thanks, in part, to some enthusiastic support from some influential groups like the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association, Keystone Monon Neighborhood Association and two City-County Council members.
“Bent Rail is a welcome development that will bring positive energy back to a decaying property,” said one representative of the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association.
“This is the type of project that younger people, younger families, demand,” said Will Gooden, the City-County Council member who represents the neighborhood where the brewpub will be located.
But a group of people who live closest to the project see it differently.
“It’s not that we’re against the development, we’re against the size of the development,” said Ryan Lease, who lives and works across the street at Indianapolis Granite and Marble.
Lease was part of a group of people who opposed the project and their own neighborhood association during the meeting with the Metropolitan Development Commission.
“The petitioners attempt to shoe horn their super-sized venue into our neighborhood will make a bad parking situation far worse,” said Andrew Funke, who also lives in the neighborhood.
When developers first presented their plans for the Bent Rail, the biggest complaint concerned the big open area in back that would become a beer garden and live music venue. After neighbors shared concerns with a hearing examiner about noise and large crowds, the developers changed their plan.
“So the concert idea that would attract large crowds of people, we’ve abandoned,” said Michael Rabinowitch, a lawyers for the developers.
Rabinowitch also detailed a scaled back plan for the beer garden, which would shrink by 40 percent in order to add more on-site parking.
“The plan before you, I want to stress, is very different than the plan that went before the hearing examiner,” Rabinowitch said as he addressed the Metropolitan Development Commission.
Neighbors say they’re glad the changes were made, but as the project moves forward, they’re still upset that it will be a bigger brewpub than anything that currently exists up the road in Broad Ripple.
“It’s a quiet neighborhood. It is not Broad Ripple,” said JoAnne Sanders, who lives in the neighborhood.
“It’s one of those things that we’ll just have to see,” Lease said. “You know, hopefully they stay as a good neighbor like they said they will and it continues to be just a restaurant and a microbrewery.”
The developers have previously said they’d like to open the Bent Rail by early summer.