Controversial Broad Ripple development gets initial approval

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A controversial $25 million mixed-use development in Broad Ripple is a step closer to becoming reality after an Indianapolis hearing examiner approved the plan.

The proposal has divided neighbors and nearby business owners.

“It will bring a much needed improvement and an injection of residents into the area that supports everyone,” said Will Gooden, an Indianapolis City-County councilmember.

Critics claim the development threatens the unique Indianapolis neighborhood known for its village-themed look. One of the biggest concerns, neighbors say, is its size.

“It would discourage shopping in the village, aggravate driving issues and make it more difficult to patronize one-on-one businesses,” said John Glenn, who lives nearby.

Despite a redesign by chief developer Browning Investments that increased the cost from $18 to $25 million, and new support from the Broad Ripple Village Association, heated debate continues as city officials consider several zoning changes.

“The apartment building will be replaced with generic, high-priced living structures,” said Laurel Gilchrist, a nearby business owner.

The building would cover about two acres, replacing a vacant gas station and an old apartment structure that dates back several decades.

The most recent plans call for a more than 33,000-square-foot grocery store, 103 apartments and town homes and a 355-space parking garage.

“The hope is that the image would be improved so that people would come and visit the village not only on the weekends and at night but also during the day,” said Joseph Scimia, the developer’s attorney.

The Metropolitan Development Commission will take a close look at the project on Sept. 4. The project needs the commission’s approval as well as that of the City-County Council. If that happens, opponents said they would appeal.