Proposed Gas Station at 10th St. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.

Small business Feroze and Sons has been working for many months to get approval for a gas station and convenience store on the northwest corner of 10th St. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. (DMLK). That site lies within the Ransom Place Historic Conservation District, so all plans must first be approved by the IHPC. It was at this step that the petition ground to a halt.

Numerous questions surrounded the proposal. Most significantly, the roads around the site are among the busiest in the city — particularly in the evening when cars are leaving the IUPUI campus to get to the I65 on-ramps at DMLK — which, while it presents a wonderful business opportunity for a gas station, also poses significant problems for ingress and egress. Also at issue is the orientation of the convenience store, proposed to be built away from the corner of the intersection. Typical urban commercial design would dictate placing the structure directly adjacent to the sidewalks at the intersection of 10th and DMLK.

After six consecutive continuances, this proposal could get a final vote by the IHPC during their monthly hearing tomorrow (10/6/10, 5:30pm, 1st Floor, Conference Room 118). Previous IHPC staff reports had recommended approval, pending design tweaks such as awnings above the windows of the convenience store and changes to the cornice of the pump island canopy. Given commission feedback at the August hearing, the petitioner was also expected to provide a detailed landscaping plan, contact the commercial owner to the west to consider sharing a curb cut on 10th St, meet with concerned neighboring organizations (Ransom Place Neighborhood Association, IUPUI), and consider layout changes to improve maneuverability on the site.

A new rendering of the gas station and convenience store, looking west from DMLK. Note that the pumps have been reduced from 4 to 3 and oriented at an angle to address the commission's concern about maneuverability.

While some of these points were addressed by the petitioner, unresolved issues still remain and the October staff report now recommends denial, citing the following:

Reasons for Denial
Staff believes that six months is adequate time to finalize appropriate plans. Staff recommends that this request be denied based on the following:
1. The building appears to be too large for the site causing strain on the usability of the parking spaces
2. The maneuverability on the site appears tight, especially at the pumps and entrances to the site
3. Even though the required number of parking spaces is available (14 needed, 17 provided), the maneuverability around these parking spaces is tight. This is partly due to the fact that the C-3 zoning ordinance allows the parking spaces at the pumps to be included in the calculation and because the building may be too large.
4. The applicant has not further developed the architecture of the building and canopy as requested

If the commission follows the staff recommendation, this proposal will be dead. Given that possible outcome, here are two questions for the comments section:

1. Did this IHPC regulatory review work appropriately? Is this a flawed design and the petitioner did not adequately address concerns? Or is this a reasonable proposal for the location and this small business owner is being forced through unnecessary regulatory hurdles?

2. If not this proposal, what do you think should be built at this site? Is there a better way to make a gas station work here or should the site be cleaned up and used for something else? Consider that the southwest corner of the intersection is also a bare lot — could a simultaneous development on both corners breath life into the intersection?

Comments 10

  • I honestly wouldn’t be offended to see this get turned down and watch the lot sit empty. An empty lot is better than watching some crumby looking gas station and convenience store take its place.

    As it has been noted, this is a busy intersection. Adding more confusion in the form of people turning in or out is going to turn this area into a disaster. What about basketball courts or something? I could see tall nets and lights for after dark basketball going on here. Would be a better use of the space than another gas station.

  • Curt, here’s a challenge: where’s the nearest gas station from that corner and/or the IUPUI campus?

  • Ohio & East and N Delaware. If you cant get to one of those places in the downtown area, then shame on you for letting your gas tank get too empty. 😉

    • Those stations are over a mile away (and I challenge you to get from 10th & MLK to 9th and Delaware in less than 10 minutes in a car…it’s probably faster on a bike using the Cultural Trail!). The next one north-ish is 16th & Illinois; the next one west is past 16th & White River. My point is, it’s a long way, and out of the way. We do have to allow for some moderately convenient car infrastructure in the Regional Center.
      That said, the design of this one is abysmal and I agree with Chris Corr’s suggestions.
      For some real urbanism, go to Google Maps and type in “2200 M St. NW, Washington DC”. That corner features a ground floor Walgreen’s (integrated with a Marriott) across from an Exxon C-store/gas station (integrated with residential building).

  • I’m not fundamentally opposed to a gas station there, but this is a pretty poor plan. The funny thing is this developer probably COULD have built the essential core of their proposal (even with the convenience store set back from the corner) if they had just been more responsive to the requests of IHPC, Ransom Place and others. In my opinion, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    As for what to do, a gas station could work, but I would require two things: (1) that they build the convenience store to the corner (if sight triangle is truly an issue, chop the corner to an angle as necessary to accommodate) and (2) share the alley curb cut between the strip mall this site and require that it be entrance-only (all cars would exit to DMLK).

    If not a gas station, I think 3-4 story residential could work. Make it L-shaped with an internal surface parking area. Dunbar Court is right next door and does just fine with essentially the exact same ingress/egress issues.

  • This project reminds of a similar type project in Carmel. The old Pizza Hut at Rangeline and Carmel Drive did battle with the Carmel Planning. Turkeyhilll (Kroger) wanted to put in a gas station as an excuse to build a conveince store on that corner. Carmel of course has a new overlay for Rangeline that has to be NeoClassic (new urbanism). Of course Turkeyhill says it can’t be done.

    A long story and much latter, TurkeyHill is going to build a two story gas station with pumps in the back and a design that will reflect Carmel standards. As the story goes once approved Turkeyhill sheepishly admits that this is not the first such station they have built like this. I will see if I can find some renderings for you Curt when I get back in town

    The new gas station is just a block away from the new two story, NeoClassic, CVS on Rangeline. I think that Carmel for the most part designed it for them, It is coming out of the ground as we speak.

    Just as an FYI New Urbansiom seems to freak people out in the burbs and NeoClassic is a much kinder and gentler way to say the same thing without implying the D word…..density!

  • Bruce — thanks for the info about the two story gas station. I’d be very curious to know what the second story of the gas station is used for. Is it just an extension of the ground floor commercial space or is it leased separately?

  • To “reflect Carmel standards” is a phrase worthy of its own blog. As for this gas station design, the IHPC probably gave the small business owner design help with suggestions that would have made it appropriate for the location. It’s not an adversarial process unless the property owner decides to dig in his/her heels with a bad design. If that happens, it shouldn’t be passed, which seems to be how this went down.

  • Stay tuned, fellow Downtown residents, commuters and historic neighborhood lovers. This proposal is back on track
    and making its way to another IHPC hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the public assembly room.
    My neighborhood, Fayette Street Conservation District, and Ransom Place and Historic Flanner Homes are all against this development. If you agree that it will be a bad idea for the reasons outlined above (in the blog discussion of almost a year ago), then please show up and help support our tiny neighborhood’s fight.

    Janet Schneider

  • Janet,

    Perhaps you can take a different approach. Instead of outright fighting the proposal, provide alternatives that would create a better fit for the neighborhood. Ask that the store portion of the development be built to the sidewalk of MLK and parking be located in the rear. Ask for increased landscaping and reduced site lighting to limit the impacts of the fueling portion. Find what the community truly desires and ask for those conditions and you would support it. If you are just against a gas station, then I am unsure as to how you would remedy it.

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