DMD Recommends Approval For Controversial $61m Willows Project
The Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development announced on Thursday that an controversial residential real estate project north of Broad Ripple will be recommended for approval.
Despite opposition from neighbours concerned about the project’s possible impact on traffic and overall size, the agency determined the renovation of The Willows Event Center land at 6729 Westfield Blvd. into more over 250 apartments & town homes should be allowed to proceed.
Willows owner Evergreen LLC, Carmel developer J.C. Hart Co., and Indianapolis-based Chase Development would collaborate on the $61 million redevelopment.
The development team is requesting that the site be rezoned to allow for the mixed-use project, and the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission will evaluate the request at its meeting on May 18. Typically, the MDC follows the DMD’s advice. See Also Ihsaa Policy Already Addresses Transgender Athletes. What Else Will The New Indiana Law Do?.
J.C. Hart’s $53 million apartment component would include three buildings comprising 238 units and 303 parking spots across Westfield Boulevard, just north of a White River oxbow (or U-shape). Monthly rents would range from $1,200 to $2,100.
The town houses, which would be three to four stories tall, with two-car garages, & cost $700,000 to $1 million, would cost at least $8 million to build, according to Chase Development. Those residences would be located along southern edge of a 13-acre pond on North Dawson Lake Drive.
Evergreen intends to provide land as well as some cash to the development, with the intention of becoming a long-term partner & continuing to maintain the pond and green space created by the project.
The Marion County Comprehensive Plan, that determines the best uses for property based on proximity to amenities, major roadways, and existing neighbourhoods, prompted DMD to recommend approval. Neighboring property owners claimed the project was too large and didn’t comply with the Marion County Comprehensive Plan, that determine the best uses for property based on proximity to amenities, major roadways, and existing neighbourhoods.
DMD says in its report that the building is bigger than the comprehensive plan calls for, but that it is a better usage than the current event centre. For single-family dwellings, the classification has a maximum density of about 5 units per acre, but it also allow for apartment and townhouse developments, which have much higher densities.
The staff report stated that “the project differs from the design in density, footprint size of the largest building, and position of parking at front yard.”
The project could be near existing apartment and townhouse complexes, according to the report, and would be built on a route that could handle the increased traffic. It also cited a study commissioned by development team, which concluded that the project would have no negative impact on traffic.
Evergreen’s plan to add pedestrian infrastructure on Westfield Boulevard, that currently has very little sidewalk space, has also received clearance. Along Westfield Boulevard, new sidewalks & crosswalks will be installed, as well as a link to the Monon Trail.
When the surrounding Spirit Lake pond is taken into consideration, the project’s density is little under 12 units per acre. Developers can include amenity spaces like lakes and ponds in their density estimates under city ordinance.
However, opponents have opposed to incorporating the pond in a dense calculation since it skews the numbers the fig is closer to 31 unit per acre without the pond) and because it was already factored into the Spirit Lake condominiums’ calculations when they are built in 2002.
About 100 neighbours wrote to DMD to express their opposition to the idea, while only three people wrote in favour. Several residents wrote multiple letters in response to the project, and almost 500 people signed a petition against it.
The Marrott Island Community Association—a unofficial neighbourhood group that has led attempts to stop the project—said in a statement that it was dissatisfied with the staff’s decision, but that it would continue to work to have the project reduced back or abandoned.
If no agreement is achieved, the measure will be voted on at the council’s next public meeting. The council would vote on the MDC resolution as part of a broader group of zoning petitions if there is no call-down.
The development team expressed gratitude for the city’s attention and expressed eagerness to bring the project forward in its own statement.
J.C. Hart CEO John Hart commented, “We appreciate the depth & breadth of the staff evaluation.” “Our staff worked tirelessly to achieve their stringent support criteria. Over the previous few months, we’ve also listened to neighbors and amended the plan to accommodate many of their concerns. “We are excited to present our proposal to Metropolitan Development Commission,” said the team.