Urban Indy has obtained renderings of the revised mixed use development being proposed for the former Shell station (and neighboring apartment buildings) on the north side of the Central Canal in Broad Ripple.
Initial renderings of the project, which we aired in April, resulted in an uproar from residents and business owners of Broad Ripple. Browning Investments, the developer of the now (up to) 100 unit apartment & retail complex, went back to the drawing boards after the initial renderings were released. Public feedback was accepted and considered in these renderings. Retail space has been revised to 32.5k square feet from the previous 35k.
Much ado has been made of the policy side of this proposal from the request of TIF funds for construction to the luring of Whole Foods as the potential tenant of the retail portion. What hasn’t received a lot of attention are the design merits of the project; which is what we hope to tackle in this post.
The new renderings still indicate a large massing at the intersection of the Central Canal and College Ave. A diversity of materials appear to be proposed which would suit the context of the corridor which they face. Other major changes in this round of revisions include the addition of more apartment units on the Carrollton Ave side of the development. A large circular open space appears to be a focal point where the tow path crosses the canal. Could this be a place for future programmed events? A somewhat dominating parking structure is still slated for the north side of the site however, the addition of apartments on Carrollton seems to have mitigated the unsightliness of the initial design. Additionally, sidewalks along Carrollton could go a long way towards transforming the street which currently lacks any sidewalks. Also included with the latest renderings is a loose traffic circulating plan indicating where ingress & egress from the structure would occur, a potentially above par IndyGo bus stop and the location of the commercial vehicle loading dock.
Laverock Road would cease to exist if this development moves forward. The new site would abut the Central Canal adding a pedestrian & cycling only environment where a loosely maintained street exists today. The developer, while unable to implement any changes to the canal itself, will maintain a 20′ setback from the slope of the canal where a hard surface will be maintained preserving the connectivity that currently exists on Laverock. Changes to the canal itself must be approved and implemented by Citizen’s Energy
Perhaps troubling to some is the amount of automobile traffic congestion that could be induced by this new development. College Avenue, already a busy arterial street, could be subject to an increase in resident and commercial user traffic. In addition, Carrollton Ave would become a secondary egress to the parking structure taking with it 64th street, itself a narrow secondary street.
Will these small village oriented streets be able to handle increases in automobile traffic?
According to a draft traffic study obtained by Urban Indy, a traffic signal could be installed at the entrance to the parking structure. Concerns over traffic congestion prompted BRVA to request that the developer undertake a traffic study, which occurred in June. The study suggests that significant alterations to traffic patterns at College & Broad Ripple Ave. and College & 64th St. are not necessary, however, a traffic light could be installed on College at the entrance to the site.
Of course, an alternative exists in the pedestrian and bicycle friendly nature of Broad Ripple Village. Indeed, this development would lie adjacent to the Central Canal Tow Path and steps from the Monon, both offering easy pedestrian and cyclists access. Furthermore, the IndyGo 17, with stops on Broad Ripple Ave, would be well positioned to deliver customers as would the 18. Possible future Red Line service could also interface with the development. Hopefully, a robust transit stop materializes with this development since nothing materialized on the property of the new mixed use parking structure just south of here.
Taken as a whole, residential density (over 50 units/acre) would see a vast increase with this development taking a step towards making Broad Ripple much more viable as a transit supportive village typology. While the developer has not requested LEED certification, it should be noted that the increased density is itself much more efficient than single family units. It will be interesting to see how this development could change transit usage patterns and affect people’s propensity to cycle to the grocery. Perhaps I am biased since this is how a lot of my family’s grocery shopping is done though. Sadly, another dominating structure solely dedicated to automobile parking will be some of the baggage this development will bring with it, but I suppose it is a trade off that Indianapolis will have to accept for the foreseeable future as robust rapid transit is not yet a reality.