Parking Garage: Coming soon to a small scaled neighborhood near you!

California Street parking garage @ IUPUI nears completion
California Street parking garage @ IUPUI nears completion

The local media reported recently on an announcement by the city that they have chosen to lease the operation of metered parking to ACS, a private company out of Dallas, TX. Kirsten of Urban Indy reported on this previously before the announcement and discussed what it could mean for the future of parking. There were many things pointed out such as how this has failed cities like Chicago with the political will to do this on the city level. She has an analysis of the released proposal up now as well. Aaron Renn of the Urbanophile seems to be talking a lot about this lately in regards to Chicago, and Indianapolis and in the larger context, private leasing of public infrastructure. It tackles the policy side more than the planning and and public interface side of things, although he does touch on that as well. It’s good reading if you have the time.

The target of this article is based upon a statement made by Mayor Greg Ballard regarding the Broad Ripple neighborhood. He stated, “ …the $35 million from ACS will be used in part to pay for a new parking garage in Broad Ripple. The city is already scouting locations and hope to announce details in the near future.”

Recently, Broad Ripple Village business owners made a plea for more parking in the village area in the form of a “parking garage”. They asked for this apparently to reduce the amount of walking that people have to do to get to their shops. They also cited areas like Glendale (located at 62nd & Keystone Ave roughly a mile away) would be taking their shoppers when people couldn’t find quick parking in the Village. Glendale, they claim, can do this largely in part to it’s mall heritage and glut of open parking that is ALWAYS available. Users there are never charged a penny to park.

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting the Broad Ripple village, you will note that parking IS a major concern. Especially for those not familiar with the area. And while the strip through the village makes for a nearly non-existant chance at parking ,if you merely drive a few blocks off that beaten path, you are likely to find parking. Most any place you will park throughout the neighborhood will highlight the more 2nd tier set of businesses that while equally as charming are not on the Avenue.

However, comparing the Broad Ripple shopping experience and the Glendale shopping experience is on the surface laughable. Glendale contains a Target, Macy’s and a few chain restaurants. Conversely, Broad Ripple is by a large majority, niche local businesses with only a few small chains permeating the mix. Additionally, my wife pointed out that on a recent trip to Broad Ripple to make some business meetings, she was unable to locate business hours on a handfull of shops located on or near the strip; that were closed in the middle of the day. Perhaps those same business owners complaining about business lost to Glendale would be able to retain said “lost business” if they were frank about when they are open? I digress…

With all this in mind, in a recent meeting, some business owners asked that a parking garage be constructed somewhere in the neighborhood. Even more alarming, was at the meeting that was conducted, Ryan Vaughn, City-County Council president and representative of the area, proclaimed his support for just such a structure.

I’d be remiss at this point if I wasn’t proclaiming my continued dismay at this idea. As those of you who follow me know, I am a HUGE advocate of an improved transit system for Indianapolis. Broad Ripple is a prime target for some sort of transportation improvement whether it is in the form of increased frequency of buses, or more attractive streetcar service from downtown; as has been advocated by many a people in the area. On the surface, I agree with a price increase in parking. It’s been literally decades since this happened, and I philosophically believe that a doubling in parking rates will cause people to think twice about parking and look at cheaper, and more sustainable, options like taking the bus. The downstream affect of this is building a trend of increased ridership, lower parking requirements for downtown development, and an increase in good urban design that also has the happy offset of increased tax revenue. But that is walking a long line of,”if this happens, that will happens”

As a group, we at Urban Indy have spent some time discussing this issue. At this point the parking garage plan has the backing of the City Council area rep & president. The Mayor, and the largely vocal Broad Ripple Village business owners. That likely means, a parking garage is coming. So how do urbanists try and get their fair share of this pie? We can look at other examples of parking garages good and bad. A typical downtown parking garage usually takes up a lot of space and has no interface with the public. FAIL.

Ivy Tech Multimodal Parking Facility
Ivy Tech Multimodal Parking Facility

We can look at the Ivy Tech Multimodal Center being constructed at the Indianapolis campus located at Fall Creek Parkway and Meridian Street. It will be 4 floors tall with the top 3 floors consisting of automobile parking. The ground floor will contain a library and a Bus Transit center. I have not been on site recently to survey the progress but on the surface, that is a good mixing of the available transit modes and the library is obviously a win.

In Bloomington, IN (and I have never seen this structure at all) there is another garage with a Scotty’s Brewhouse (regional bar) and a Subway that both seem to be doing well.

Scotty's Brewhouse Bloomington (photo from flickr user Apertome)
Scotty's Brewhouse Bloomington (photo from flickr user Apertome)

Both of these models offer something which the city could look at when designing a structure for the Broad Ripple area. With all the parking garages going up around town, there should be some sort of accountability for the continued promotion of automobile oriented transportation that is wildly proliferating around town. Just off the top of my head, I know that Wishard will be getting a huge parking structure. IUPUI is finishing up the California Street garage, and recently, Clarian announced an expansion in the area of 16th and Capital, which will also (surprise…) include an 1100 space garage; albeit with some allowance for first floor commercial space for medical and perhaps some other street level access.

A wish list of features that we at Urban Indy would like to see:

1.  Include attractive first floor retail spaces
2.  Match style of nearby structures
3.  Address sidewalk directly; no pedestrian tunnels, skywalks, or interior mall spaces
4.  Design structure so it can be repurposed into another use when Indy transit system reduces need for extra parking
5.  Enact a market based pricing scheme for all parking spots (on-street and structure)
6.  Include reduced/subsidized parking for bicyclists (and lockers/shower facilities)
7.  Eliminate all on-site/off-street parking requirements for local properties

Comments 20

  • I’m kind of grossed out by this…

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m utterly baffled by the claim that “parking” is a problem in Broadripple. It’s only a problem if you define “parking” as “free parking” and problem as “not immediately available 24 hours a day.” If there is so much demand for parking in Broadripple, why hasn’t an enterprising businessperson decided to *build a parking garage*? Why are we spending $35 million (!!!) in public funds on a parking structure we don’t need and that will only serve to publicly subsidize automobile use? Meanwhile, our schools are cash strapped and we don’t have enough money to properly care for public green spaces. This is obscene.

  • Curt, don’t forget Fresh Market at 54th and College with rooftop parking designed into the building.
    The strip mall site at the east end of the village might offer the best opportunity for parking structure with integrated store. Scale there is pretty big because of the high school and multi-story apartments behind it.
    I write from the perspective of someone who actually owned and worked in a neighborhood business in the strip mall in Broad Ripple for many years: parking was never a problem for me. I just parked in the strip mall lot and walked from there anywhere in the Village that I wanted to go.

  • I thought the same thing Chris. But that would be my personal, total oposition to a parking structure period. It seems like there is enough POLITICAL will for this to happen though…

  • @Chris

    Totally agree with you there. When this first came up back in July, I proposed an idea such as this:

    Place the storefront of that strip mall out by the sidewalk/street, and build a parking garage on the rear portion of that lot. The storefronts would receive a makeover, and a more prominent location on the street, and parking would be ample, yet mostly hidden from BR avenue.

  • Investing in the College Avenue Streetcar system from Broad Ripple to Massachusettes Avenue (1st Phase) should be PRIORITY NUMBER ONE FOR INDIANAPOLIS. This city needs to find a way to develop ‘Midtown,’ the area between downtwon and Broad Ripple. In order to do this? Realize the natural growth of commercialization of College Avenue southward and build upon that with better bus service that compliments the north-south streetcar line. SOBRO is currently the most desirable place to invest in Indianapolis. A system that automatically connects this area with downtown (besides cars) will develop Midtown quicker than anything. The historic commercial nodes would be developed more naturally(and quickly) with the addition of this line, followed by further investment within surrounding residential neighborhoods. For just a 5-7 mile stretch along College Avenue, this development will change the face of urban living in Indianapolis. It’s too bad this will not be complete by the time Superbowl comes to town because Indianapolis needs to show outsiders that this city is more than a bunch of small, disconnected islands—served only by your car. The College Avenue Streetcar Line should be developed before any lightrail system connecting Noblesville to Downtown (PRIORITY #3). Here is my wish list for common sense planning for Indianapolis:

    First and foremost, College Avenue NEEDS to be a two-way street all the way to Fountain Square!!

    PRIORITY #1: COLLEGE AVENUE STREETCAR LINE (broad ripple to downtown)
    PRIORITY #3: HIGER DENSITY/MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT along the line (of existing historic nodes and prominent intersections such as 38th and 16th Streets)
    PRIORITY #4: LIGHTRAIL DEVELOPMENT (from noblesville to downtown)

    Not sure how the boundaries of Midtown be defined but I’m thinking:

    North: 71st or 86th Street
    South: Fall Creek
    East: Keystone, Allisonville or Binford?
    West: Michigan

    • I fully support the College Avenue streetcar, or at the least ramped up bus service. A Fountain Square connection would be killer, especially if you could utilize College all the way to Virginia.

  • If the goal is to decrease customer walk-times, should they be pushing for something a little less costly — say, a shuttle? You could have it run along College Avenue from Kessler up to Broad Ripple Avenue, then take the Avenue all the way over to Keystone to feed off of the Glendale parking spots. Adding a shuttle to Broad Ripple could actually extend the total size of the “strip,” as customers could readily get from one end to the other at a moment’s notice (assuming the shuttle runs regularly enough so wait times are low).

  • Ran in to Kirsten @ Pecha Kucha #10 the other night and she told me about the parking chatter in the relaunched UI. She encouraged me to share my thoughts based on my involvement in BRV projects for the past 2+ years.

    Thanks for bringing attention to Broad Ripple Village. We’re pleased with the upgrades to the BR Avenue repaving project our community financed (pedestrian crossings & bike gardens). These “Complete Street” enhancements spurred IndyGo to install a pair of bike racks & a bench (paid for courtesy of Stimulus Package funds) and Globe Asphalt to donate a crosswalk treatment where the Monon intersects BRAVE (estimated street value $25K.)

    Since Earth Day 2008, the community has been involved in a comprehensive revision of the Village Master Plan. Called “Envision Broad Ripple” it is a collaborative effort between the Broad Ripple Village Association & its fund-raising 501(c)(3) The Broad Ripple Alliance for Progress along with Green Broad Ripple & HARMONI – the historic Midtown initiative. Planners from the City’s Dept. of Metropolitan Development have worked with us on a series of exercises & work sessions on everything from building & greenspace typologies, transit-oriented development treatments, landscaping standards, etc. with a goal of preserving the Broad Ripple “look and feel.”

    As part of our work, we have looked at planning documents generated over the past 2 decades. Of particular relevance to this post, it should be noted that the Peterson administration commissioned Walker & Associates to conduct a parking study. The report was completed shortly before Ballard took office. The study found that peak demand for parking is limited to a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday nights. The study found that Broad Ripple’s compact form makes it a very walkable community. If one compared the length of a walk in, say, Castleton, from the parking lot to inside the mall and the return trip, one would have a shorter walk in Broad Ripple. What is different is the perception! People have an expectation that they can park “at the front door” in BRV – an expectation they would not have in any mall.

    Part of our community’s goal is to create a pleasant and safe pedestrian experience everywhere in the Village (both north and south of the Canal.) We’re also working with IndyParks/IndyGreenways to see if they will consider installing lights along the Canal & the Monon in BRV and allowing use of these trails after dusk.

    Walker did recommend a parking structure and furthermore called for the creation of a neighborhood parking medallion program (similar to Lockerbie Square or Oak Park, IL) that would limit parking in adjacent neighborhoods to residents and their guests. The idea is to stimulate demand for a parking structure and also alleviate some of the noise and trash our residents have to contend with. It would also improve public safety since “crimes of opportunity” sometimes occur when patrons return to their cars parked in the dark.

    In the EBR discussions of parking garages (yes, plural) we have always described structures as mixed-use (hotel, retail, residential, etc.) and our consensus has been a 4 story limit seems the most appropriate scale.

    One of the other things that came out from our recent public meeting w/ Ryan Vaughn & Michael Huber, is that state law requires funds generated in a locality to remain in the locality. The idea of having an on-going revenue stream dedicated to BRV infrastructure improvements to benefit not only commercial constituencies but also residential as well is a very attractive notion as there is an overwhelming sense that the Village deserves attention. Our community supported raising the parking fees as well as extending the hours so that nighttime patrons can help generate additional revenues. We urged the City to upgrade parking meters to the contemporary style that are located at the end of the block and accept credit cards. That would help remove meters from our narrow sidewalks – in effect expanding the path. Our suggestion to extend the amount of time from 2 hours to 3 or 4 hours went unheeded.

    As for the comments about mass/public transit, please make sure the folks at IndyConnect know about your desires. We have worked hard to generate support for transit in BRV especially after seeing the first draft of the IndyConnect report which basically ignored Midtown! Due to persistent lobbying efforts, the IndyConnect team has now modified their public statements to include a request for a College Avenue trolley or light rail as well as calling for more circulating shuttle routes. (FYI: Midtown boundaries are roughtly N: White River; S: Fall Creek: E: Keystone: W: Michigan Road) For example, we proposed to IndyGo to fund a shuttle between Glendale & IMA but costs were prohibitive. Also take note Carmel’s recent transit master plan proposal – it included a College Ave. transit corridor. Obviously funding, designing and constructing any system is years away but it’s important to make sure the plans include the Village.

    The next Envision Broad Ripple session (#20!) is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. 9/1 @ Flanner & Buchanan on the Avenue. We’ll talk more about the Canal & Monon Trail and would welcome your involvement.

  • I know bringing up the specific location of the parking garage is outside of the scope of this discussion, but maybe someone can enlighten me…….Why has there been no discussion involving the SW corner of college ave. and broad ripple ave. (where marcos pizza, and 2 closed down gas stations currently are)? Is this unusable land for some reason? It seems like the perfect location for a parking garage on top of a transit center terminus / mixed use retail. I was at the last BRVA meeting and a few sites were discussed, however, this was not one of them.

    And a side note, adding a parking garage should be part of the same vision as the streetcar line. Most transit stops in other cities are accompanied by park/ride facilities. Adding a parking garage at the northern terminus (for phase 1) of the college ave. streetcar line would likely encourage park/ride behavior and not hinder mass transit in broad ripple.

  • Ryan, your logic is exactly the reason to put a garage in Glendale where it will be appropriately scaled and at an appropriate stop on a streetcar line. The site you propose is too close to single-family residential, at the edge of the commercial/residential transition.

    • Chris, are you talking about within the expansive parking lot of Glendale Mall where Target sets? This would be a logical choice, however, I think even more ideal would be redeveloping the parking lot where Thai Cafe and the old Sunflower Market (future Scotty’s Brewhouse, right?) is. I think 62nd street could handle the traffic, and this location would be a great pilot project for what Indy needs to see more of: Mixed use, higher density developments on the fringe of established commercial districts. If developed in Glendale, would the street car system loop around Keystone, a southern boundry, College, and 62nd? What are your thoughts? Whatever it is, a distinct & permanent transportaion link from Broad Ripple and Mass Ave. needs to be done! Light Rail down College?

  • Quick question, and pardon my ignorance, for I don’t spend a terrible lot of time in this region: would there be any reason to continue the proposed streetcar line north of Broad Ripple along College Avenue? Because it seems to me like it would make a lot of sense to run the streetcar over to Keystone by Glendale and then loop the line up north to Carmel.

    A streetcar probably wouldn’t make sense running all the way north to Carmel, as there’s large stretches of Keystone that don’t have anything on them, but maybe we could have a streetcar loop that also overlaps with an instreet light rail? What do you guys think?

  • Micah (and Andrew), I envision a garage on the “backside” of Glendale, in the seldom-used outlot on the east side of Rural, or at the SW corner of 62nd and Rural. The big retailers won’t want a parking structure blocking drivers’ view of their storefronts (Macy’s, Target, Staples, Lowe’s) from Keystone. A backside-garage location would also supply train-storage and turnaround space.

    Here’s the thing that will make light-rail transit work: connect more than homes in the ‘burbs to jobs in the city. Cramming as many destinations onto a Broad Ripple-to-downtown line as possible is key. One route concept is this (and I stole most of it from Curt Ailes):

    Glendale terminal (allows for future connections north to Keystone Crossing and Carmel via Keystone, and northeast to Castleton & Fishers via 62nd and Nickel Plate)
    Route west:
    62nd St./Broad Ripple Avenue to College
    South on College to 38th or Fairfield/34th
    West on 38th or Fairfield/34th to a north/south split at either Meridian/Illinois or Illinois/Capitol
    South past The Children’s Musuem, Ivy Tech, Methodist, downtown, convention center/mall/hotel district; junction with east-west Washington Street line near Circle Center Mall.
    West on South Street (near LOS, main Post Office, Eli Lilly complex, Anthem offices) to East or Virginia
    South on East to Morris, or Southeast on Virginia (co-locate with Cultural Trail somehow?) to Fountain Square terminal.
    Future line extension south on Shelby to UIndy, then further south along Madison or rail line to Greenwood?

    The parts of this line north of downtown and near-south and southeast are already “streetcar suburban” neighborhoods and there were lines on many of the streets mentioned more than a century ago when they were developed.

    • 2 thoughts:

      1) Storrow/Kinsella produced a report in 2003 for MPO about a Glendale Transit hub (link:

      apparently the surrounding neighbors weren’t supportive of the concept so I doubt they’d want a parking garage nearby either.

      2)Broad Ripple Village has actively pursued a bus shuttle service with IndyGo linking Glendale w/ BR Park, BRV, Butler & IMA. It’s cost prohibitive. However BRV & Midtown constituents were successful in convincing Indyconnct to include Midtown bus shuttles in their proposed paln.

      If we’re looking for near-term parking/transit solutions, a shuttle bus has to be in the mix. This has to include aggressive marketing to stress convenience and safety and cost-effectiveness i.e. cheaper than DUI and/or having your car towed.

      There’s still the issue of the continued dominance of auto-centric culture here plus the fact that BR Village attracts guests not just from Washington Township & Marion County but the surrounding donut counties too and those folks are going to drive.

  • In short, a “Broad Ripple Parking Garage” shouldn’t be built in isolation from other transit/transportation planning. Given what Broad Ripple is and what people do there, we should not be encouraging anyone to drive there…because then they have to drive home.

  • That sounds like a fine and dandy route for light rail. It hits just about everything of note on the north-to-south axis.

    And I totally agree that any parking infrastructure should also be considered in light of other transportation decisions in the future.

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