Apartments and offices and retail space to pedestrian plaza and stadium, this is what the proposed $550 million development project could include.
Provided by Indy Eleven, Indianapolis Star
A multimillion-dollar proposal has created quite a stir in the bustling, historic cultural district of Broad Ripple.
On Thursday, Indy Eleven announced the $550 million mixed-use development called Eleven Park that would feature a 20,000-seat stadium for the soccer team, as well as retail and office space, apartments, a hotel, a school, underground parking and a public area. Then came the kicker on Friday morning: The team was flirting with the idea of building on the now-closed Broad Ripple High School campus.
Social media was buzzing with opinions about the idea. Some were excited about the potential boost in revenue and increased patronage to local businesses. Others expressed concern over the possible increase in traffic, where the money to pay for the project would come from, and the already lack of parking.
Tim Swarens on stadium: Indy Eleven offers to buy Broad Ripple High to build stadium
The major players respond
On Nov. 13, Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir sent a letter to Indianapolis Public Schools expressing the desire to “acquire or enter into a long-term lease” at the site with backing from the Broad Ripple Village Association.
“Despite premature media reports, Keystone Group remains in the evaluation phase with regards to the eventual site of Eleven Park,” wrote Eleven Park spokesperson Tim Phelps in a statement. “We are evaluating multiple sites in Indianapolis and have no further comment on any site that has previously been or is currently under consideration for Eleven Park.”
IPS has confirmed receipt of the letter, but also stated that “no offer was made.”
“All dispositions of IPS properties are determined by a public and transparent process. That process includes a market analysis to outline best uses for the property. That analysis is ongoing.”
The Broad Ripple Village Association released a statement in response, noting that the Broad Ripple community is committed to the school remaining a “hub for public education and community gathering.”
“If IPS and Indy Eleven indicate a willingness to move forward on a Broad Ripple stadium proposal, BRVA would advocate strongly for a commitment to scholastic and civic-minded components and would re-engage citizens to seek the best possible outcome for our community.”
Executive director for the BRVA and District 2 Indianapolis City Councilor Colleen Fanning could not be reached for comment, but she issued a separate statement:
“We have an opportunity to do something very special with the redevelopment of Broad Ripple High School, which will impact the immediate and surrounding communities for decades to come. As I’ve said since this process began, the community’s voice should be heard, and IPS should work to move as quickly as possible to decide the property’s future. Long-term vacancy benefits no one.”
Local businesses are optimistic
A number of Broad Ripple business owners appear to support the idea. Andy Skinner, Broad Ripple resident and co-owner of Indy CD & Vinyl for nearly 20 years, said he could see little wrong with the proposal.
“I’m personally 100 percent behind the idea,” he said. “If it maintains a village atmosphere, it would be much like what Wrigley Field does in Wrigleyville, and this would only bring more shine to the neighborhood.”
He said this might be the only solid plan for the space that he thinks would otherwise remain vacant for many years. And he likes that the plan addresses many community concerns, such as underground parking and the addition of a school.
As for traffic? Skinner said people are already complaining about the traffic and he believes a major effort would be put into addressing this issue.
Brothers Bar & Grill is a popular nightlife destination in Broad Ripple. Robert Pruitt, a manager of the location, said Eleven Park would be a “good fit for the community.”
“With development comes flaws, but I would push for it because it’s better for business, better for growth,” he said. “We would be able to bolster team support on a larger basis.”
Mixed opinions from local residents
Steve Swango, a Broad Ripple resident and fan of the Indy Eleven, said he doesn’t see this plan working out.
“We haven’t reached that level to build a super expensive stadium,” he said. “Let’s ease into it. I think the community would support it, but I don’t know how full the stadium would be.”
Brooke Horswell lives within walking distance of Broad Ripple Village. She’s open to the idea and thinks it would be a nice addition to Broad Ripple’s neighborhood vibe.
“As long as they have a parking garage,” she said. “There’s so many houses right by so it’s very walkable, but parking can be an issue.”
She said she doesn’t want to see residents have to deal with people taking up parking in front of their homes. Horswell lives with her sister, Brittany, who is a “huge soccer fan” and thinks the stadium would be “something I would enjoy as a fan.”
A lot to research and consider
Mark Levin, clinical associate professor for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, said there could be a big upside to this project, especially in a city where sports are revered. But there is a long road ahead for wherever the stadium could end up.
“These are the types of projects that arise in many large cities across the country that provide great opportunity and are fraught with risk,” he said. “There are both real and perceived threats to the quality of life for the people who live there for any major development.”
He said the impact on traffic and the environment are two major studies that need to be done in a “competent and professional manner.” Projects like this could potentially result in an increase in crime. Levin is cautious to say that a project like this would be an economic boon to the area.
“There’s very little evidence that anyone who left a Colts game and said, ‘Let’s stop and buy a refrigerator,’ ” Levin said. “Maybe there’s opportunity for restaurants, maybe for hotels and gas stations.”
Michael Burayidi, professor of urban planning at Ball State University, said this could be a positive step for the city, but it has to be handled thoroughly.
“Congestion is good for a city, density is good for a community, but it’s how it is handled that will determine whether the project is successful or not,” he said. “If all the necessary pieces and analysis is done, then it would be a benefit for the neighborhood as well as the city.”
IndyStar reporter Arika Herron contributed to this story.
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