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.
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?