By Shari Rudavsky
October 12, 2017
If the word village connotes a hamlet smaller than a town, a gathering of cute single-family cottages, then Broad Ripple may soon outgrow that moniker. Four multiunit rental apartment houses dotted around the north side of Broad Ripple have either recently opened or are on the horizon to open next year. The four could bring hundreds of new residents into Broad Ripple, which until now has mostly watched as new developments sprouted in other neighborhoods such as City Way, Fountain Square and Downtown.
Broad Ripple Village Association President Mark Wolf welcomed the additions, saying that the new buildings, all rentals, will provide a new option for people looking to move to the area.
"Broad Ripple has long been a desired spot to live, work and play, and we’re just now providing a different style of living,” he said. “Having new clean, updated, modern living facilities to choose from in the village will bring more people to live in the village.”
Five years ago, the Metropolitan Development Commission of the City of Indianapolis published a white paper on Broad Ripple’s future, called Envision Broad Ripple. Among the recommendations for how to achieve a “live, work, play, gather” vibe, the paper advocated the development of new multistory complexes to support an additional 1,700 residents in the area.
The blueprint for the future also emphasized the need to respect and protect the White River and the Central Canal. Some of the new developments do just that, going one step further to make the most of the natural water features in the area.
River House in Broad Ripple, a mixed-use development now under construction, aims to improve on what once sat on the property, said Todd Morris, the development’s owner. No one could tell the White River ran one block east of the run-of-the-mill office building at 6311 Westfield Blvd.
“We always thought that this site was better than what was there,” Morris said. “It didn’t take into consideration the river. The river is so beautiful and the views are so spectacular. Broad Ripple has kind of turned its back on the river.”
Not everyone, however, is unreservedly enthusiastic about the changes in Broad Ripple.
Chad Thompson, a real estate agent with Thompson Home Sales in Broad Ripple, would like to see more condominiums included in the development mix. The current options may not appeal to older people looking for a home in which they could age in place, which might rule out rentals geared towards younger tenants or townhomes, which tend to have stairs.
“On one hand, it’s good to see the density of people moving into the village. On the other turn it’s all apartments, so for most of these people will be short term, they will only live here for a couple of years and move on,” he said. “I think that’s something missing where it could be some type of high rise with elevators, so you could still own in the village and have mobility as you get older.”
More development could be in Broad Ripple’s future and some projects are already on the books. The River House, on which ground was broken in April, will open next September with a mix of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments, 5,000 square feet of office space and about 4,000 square feet of retail space.
This project has been more than a decade in the making. Morris bought an office building that stood on that spot in 2006 and waited until two years ago to start redeveloping the site.
“We have been thinking about doing this for a long time,” he said. “We looked at it several different times but never to the point where it got off the ground. … It never seemed to be the right time to do the project.”
But with all the other buildings rising around it, the time seemed right now, Morris said.
Others agree that these buildings will have little difficulty finding tenants to fill them.
“I think that the assessment has been done by the developers or they wouldn’t take the effort or money to put into the projects,” the BRVA’s Wolf said. “Broad Ripple has been around for decades so I don’t see that being an issue of getting people.”
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