Kilroy’s Bar coming to Broad Ripple?

Have you ever heard of “bad development”? Have you ever heard a developer or commercial center utter the words, “We do not want more of this economic development”? Now you have, because this is exactly what the Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) along with a host of partner organizations and citizens are saying; and with good reason.

Cardinal Fitness (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Cardinal Fitness (image credit: Curt Ailes)

The case of Kilroy’s trying to open a new bar in the Broad Ripple Village has popped up on the local radar from time to time over the past couple of months. They hope to take the place of the Cardinal Fitness located just to the west of the intersection of Broad Ripple Ave and Guilford in the heart of the Broad Ripple Village. As proposed, the fitness center would be transformed into a bar/night club complete with an outdoor patio area. They have also requested a variance to greatly reduce the amount of required parking spaces that local building codes call for.

Now you may be asking, why is it such a big deal to locate a bar when there are already a host of other bars in the village? And what is the big deal about a bar asking for less parking? It seems logical that bars, purveyors of alcoholic beverages, would advocate less parking with the end result being potentially less drunk drivers leaving their establishment. Additionally, the addition of the coming parking garage, which has received many rounds of heated debate here at Urban Indy, could lessen the impact of such a large bar.

Cardinal Fitness and existing parking lot (image credit: Curt Ailes)
Cardinal Fitness and existing parking lot (image credit: Curt Ailes)

In a remonstration offered by the BRVA (click to open .pdf), a case has been made against allowing Kilroys to setup shop. At it’s heart, the remonstrators site a number of sticking points that range from negative reinforcement of “place”, detriment to adjacent residents & their property values, ignoring previous Broad Ripple Master Planning documents (which recommends a neighborhood shopping center at this location), limiting the amount of liquor licenses in the village as well as the aforementioned parking concerns.

Kilroy's Site Plan as of 8-1-2011 (image credit: DMD Staff Report)
Kilroy's Site Plan as of 8-1-2011 (image credit: DMD Staff Report)

Indeed, the property which is zoned C-4 has a wide range of permissible uses ranging as follows: bars, auto repair, hotel, bowling alley, hair salon, print shop, post office, lawn mower repair, gardening retail, gym, etc. The uses go on and on according to Indianapolis Commercial Zoning Ordinance. If you frequent Broad Ripple, it is obvious that a large number of businesses along the main stretch of Broad Ripple Ave have sought the bar use; and that is at the heart of why the BRVA is fighting this. They would like to see more retail usage and a stop put to the apparent binge of weekend partiers that foul up the neighborhood and generally contribute to the party reputation that Broad Ripple seems to attract. They cite that there are a number of other cultural institutions to visit in the village and that these uses should continue to be the focus of new development. The remonstration also cites the granting of parking variances over the years and how it has demonstrated negative impacts to the neighborhood in the form of traffic promotive commercial uses such as restaurants and nightclubs; uses which draw in tourists from outside of the neighborhood. Will the parking garage address these concerns? That remains to be seen, but current patterns have created an environment where large amounts of traffic are present along Broad Ripple Ave and the adjoining streets most evenings and weekends.

Broad Ripple Parking Structure Rendering (image source: City press release)
Broad Ripple Parking Structure Rendering (image source: City press release)

Lastly, the report tackles the affects of the amount of liquor establishments on the public health at large citing reports from Drug Free Marion County. The report links alcohol sales and assault with many cases as well as specific new reports of criminal activity linked to the Bloomington location of Kilroy’s.

How will this turn out? Who knows. Kilroy’s rescinded their original parking variance request and offered up a variance issued in 1987  (click to open DMD staff report .pdf) by a previous development and are attempting to push their bar through on that basis. The BRVA has collected many letters of support from adjacent neighborhood organizations Meridian-Kesller, Warfleigh & Forest Hills as well as residents. DMD seems to disagree with the BRVA and specifically addresses the concerns noted in the remonstration.

What do you, our readers, think about another bar locating in Broad Ripple?

Comments 40

  • I really don’t think Broad Ripple Avenue needs yet another bar.

  • Does it really matter? Apparently, the city would like more bars to head up their DUI stops and make the money from the patrons of these establishments.

  • I’m conflicted on this issue. Some topics for discussion:

    – I view another large bar as probably inevitable. It will keep happening until a highly-visible party-type bar doesn’t make enough money to stay afloat. The only ones I know of that failed in this area have tried to stray from the successful model.

    – Yet another place for me to avoid while I venture to the outer fringes of the neighborhood.

    -I’m definitely ok with the decreased parking requirements, and parking minimums for bars are insanely high in general.

    -They lost 2800 sq ft of patio to preserve 9 parking spots. That simply boggles my mind.

  • I really don’t think BR needs another bar. It has about 10 too many already. Also, as it relates to the parking garage, is it me or are they planning to build that in a flood plain? Is that legal? And if it’s legal, is it smart? I think I know the answer to one of those.

  • In a way, the BRVA is pining for a bygone era when the street was lined with non-bar shops. But this is the tension that always exists in a popular mixed-use district that features bars and nightlife chief among its attractions: the land is valuable, and it demands higher rents or selling prices. Bars and restaurants can pay higher rents than drycleaners, antique stores, furniture stores and stationery shops (all of which used to be in the heart of the village).

  • I personally don’t want another bar in Broad Ripple (especially Kilroys [also, does anyone else find it humorous to think of Kilroys setting up shop catty-corner to Brothers smacks of the CVS-Walgreens corner-to-corner phenomena? 2 Bro bars going head to head?]), but I have to agree that it sadly seems inevitable.

    I would LOVE to see something like an all-night diner (with good pie & coffee) go in there (the building’s facade already screams all-night diner–they could even ham up the 50s era retro feel, which would be huge in a place like, as that’s something that the area is completely lacking–a place to get some bacon, greasy eggs, and a good cup of coffee at all hours.

  • Kilroy’s in Broad Ripple is a terrible idea. They have been a less than ideal neighbor in Bloomington. A higher-end bar (wine-bar or martini) might be ok, but the idea of putting a meat-market-drink-till-you-puke-or-fight type of establishment that the Kilroy’s team runs is one of the worst options I could think. I still can’t figure out how their two bars in Bloomington don’t get shut-down.

  • Okay, I will say it again – more disorderly conduct + DUI = $$$$ for the city!

  • I do not see a problem with another bar/restaurant locating in Broad Ripple. These types of establishments are what have come to define that commerical corridor, and it is fairly common for bars and restaurants to cluster in specific zone–usually, this is considered desirable, as it creates a destination area.

    Also, if the space where so desirable for some other type of retail/commercial use, then it would have succeeded as such. The last “alternative use” failed, and there does not seem to be other non-bar/restaurant businesses clamoring to locate there. Yes, parking, traffic are always an issue in any popular area of more than minimal density; however, I do not think that is a good excuse to cease development. Is traffic/parking/transit is a problem, then fix the traffic/parking/transit, do not stop development.

    Finally, all those rose-colored glass wearing folks who think the economy will soon turn around are sadly mistaken. We are due for many years of meager economic growth. Communities can no longer afford to be so picky about what types of businesses they want to accept. I am not advocating for any and all property uses to be allowed everywhere, nor am I arguing for an elimination of zoning or design standards, but I am stating a fact there are just going to have to be a general lowering of certain requirements as to what can and cannot be built. The city’s budget is being held together with paperclips and tape, and the tax base needs to greatly increase. There is no appetite for tax increases, so that means economic development needs to be encouraged. The neighborhood and the city need to be more welcoming to businesses, not less.

    A nice bar with an outdoor deck sounds fine to me. If certain neighbors are tired of living in a popular entertainment/dining district, then perhaps they should move. If they do not want to, then they should focus on getting street and transit improvements to their area, rather than trying to block development.

    • Chris, I’m not saying that Kilroy’s shouldn’t be allowed to open, but I couldn’t disagree more with your assertion that the City needs to lower its standards for commercial development given the bleak overall economy. Indianapolis has struggled to address its myriad problems for decades (even in times of great overall economic prosperity) in part, because it has a low residential tax base. Why? Because people don’t want to live in a lot of Indy’s neighborhoods, in part because of the build anything in any manner in the name of economic development mentality. Lowering our commerical building/design standards even further is not going to increase demand for Marion County’s glut of aging dwellings and will actually help continue the decay of the majority of the jurisdiction. We need more stringent standards to ensure that retail and other development contributes to the enhancement of attractive, “livable” communities in which people actually want to reside and invest.

      • Paul, honestly, do you think that no one wants to live in Broad Ripple? It is one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city, and homes go for a premium compared to many other parts of town. Also, Broad Ripple has been known for its bar nightlife for over 25 years. Moreover, it has been a restaurant spot for even longer. And, I would argue people want to live in Broad Ripple because of the restaurants and nightlife, not despite them.

        Moreover, do you really think that someone who would have otherwise considered Broad Ripple is going to drive by Kilroy’s with its expensive outdoor deck, and say, “Gosh, I was going to consider this neighborhood, but that is just one/bar restaurant too many!”

        Yes, I am being bit sacarcastic, but it is being done to make a point.

        Broad Ripple is one of the more “livable” communities in Indianapolis, and that is with all its bars, restaurants, and lack of parking. In fact, almost every truly desirable urban neighborhood across this nation has a parking shortage. Keeping an empty building on the block will not affect the parking stituation, and it certainly will not help the city’s tax base.

        What would improve Broad Ripple are the same things that would improve most Indianapolis neighborhoods–better public transportation, upgraded public infrastructure, and improved policing, and none of these things is related to whether another bar or restaurant should or should not open up in Broad Ripple.

        Also, I said nothing about lowering building standards, nor did I argue for “build anything in any manner”. (Though, I do disagree with your point as to why Indianapolis has struggling neighborhoods. I think poor public schools, poorly maintained public infrastructure, and crime are the three main reasons why some Indianapolis neighborhoods are struggling). What I said is that Indianapolis cannot afford to be so picky about trying to limit development. You can have a lot of high quality development, including lots of high quality bars and restaurants.

      • “Because people don’t want to live in a lot of Indy’s neighborhoods, in part because of the build anything in any manner in the name of economic development mentality.”

        As one who doesn’t live in Marion County/Indy, I will tell you this may play a part, but it is a very, very small part. Most people don’t want to live in Marion County because in decades past, Marion County (mostly the older part of MC) was home to the lower income population. Taxes were high and getting higher until the property tax cap came along. Even then, if you have enough socialists who are living on the government’s dime, they will easily vote to hike taxes since they likely won’t be paying anyway. For what you were paying, some public schools were horrible, especially IPS. The reason I avoided Marion County/Indy at the time is because I didn’t care for school busing, I didn’t care for higher taxation than what I could get 15′ across some street, and I didn’t care for the pay-to-play politics that waste tax dollars on a constant basis.

        If Indy ever wants to get the productive class back into the city, they need to worry about taxes, government waste, government corruption, schools, and crime before commercial/building standards. I always find it funny that these associations in Marion County want more, more, more from their broke, corrupt government, yet when it comes to increasing tax revenue, they will only accept one or two things, everything else they balk at. If BRVA wants a retail shop there, why haven’t they pooled their earnings and opened one? All the profits could go back into the association. It is likely because it is a failed business model, especially in this economy. Humans in the USA pretty much get one legalized drug: ethanol. As such, that is where the demand is.

  • A few thoughts…
    –Kilroy’s is pricey and is not a “drink all you can” establishment unless you are wealthy, although this is not relevant at all to the discussion.
    –Its a shame the BVRA isn’t more of a STIMULATOR of development and progress, as opposed to just trying to control the status quo (which really isnt a status quo, 3 restaurants + Brothers have all opened up in the last 2 years).
    — I can walk to 34 bars from my house. Does anyone think that Kilroys is really going to be the bar that ruins the village feel? I doubt it. Silly argument BVRA.
    –Kilroy’s is a bar in Bloomington, just like Harrys in West Lafayette, they have to deal with a younger, drunker, and dumber customers, so of course there are more issues than with other bars from other places. Silly argument BVRA.
    –BVRA needs to adopt new, separate parking requirements if the city will not lead on this front, and present them to the city council. Again, how awesome would it be to have a progressive association fighting for the village?

    and most importantly….
    –How could we possibly align the BRVA and the city council’s interests? The city wants tax revenue and broad ripple has the power to generate it. The BVRA only wants to “preserve the neighborhood” and doesn’t take into account tax revenue. So how about we add a tax in the village (1% maybe, and maybe its just on food/drink) that would fund village improvements, etc? Maybe we could even let the BRVA manage the fund? Then, all of a sudden, more successful companies that could generate more money for the village will be the type of establishments that the BVRA prefers. If they want dry cleaners and other low income shops, they will simply have to increase density to do it (this would also encourage residential density).
    — Broad ripple is a village in and of itself, but it is also largely driven by “visitors” from throughout central Indiana who come for entertainment, much like downtown. A TIF style tax or some other form of tax (minimal of course but still relevant) is exactly what the village needs to spread the maintenance/improvement of the village amongst all of those who enjoy it. It has reached a point of no return and even tax averse Hoosiers won’t stay away from all the village has to offer simply because of a negligent tax that could solve many many problems (including transit but thats for another post).

  • For those interested in calling bars a great engine for economic development, you should look at what has happened in Windsor, ON Canada’s downtown. Their shopping destination that was the downtown core was was taken over primarily by bars (many of which were quite similiar to Kilroy’s business plan). They found that the added costs of patrolling and securing the core along with the lack of “spin-off” from the bars (let’s face it, if you’re going to bar you’re highly unlikely to go shopping), and other more family-friendly businesses tend to actually be hurt by the presence of a primarily alcohol-based entertainment venues. The city then spent the better part of decade trying to improve the downtown to attract more than the bar crowd and are no trying to undo the image damage that the previous course of economic development took them down.

    As for Kilroy’s not being a “drink-as-much-as-you-can” type establishment, I curious as to what type of establishment they are marketing themselves as. In Bloomington they were marketing themselves in terms of drink specials (cheap ones) and generally speaking the mass marketed brands such as Miller and Bud projects specifically targeted for mass-consumption. There is a decided difference in the type of bar as presented by Kilroys and that of the Broadripple Brew Pub or Brugges. No, not all development is good development. Consider Butte, MT and Gary, IN as excellent testaments to this fact.

  • 2 more…
    — I believe Kilroy’s is trying to mimic their downtown Indy location, which is priced for their crowd – young professionals. Their Bloomington location is catering to IU students with limited spending money, so you get drink specials. Note that Broad Ripple already has places that are for high end consumers (Brugge, etc.) and places for “budget drinkers” (Aver. joes, Chumleys, etc.). Kilroy’s seems somewhere in the middle.
    –Bars are why most young people chose to live in the village, making it much more vibrant not only at night but during the day, and driving its economy. Remove bars, and you can say goodbye to salons, music shops, bar food, or anything else catering to people that live in broad ripple….because of the bar scene’s existence.

  • Exactly what i am talking about. We need more business and investment in the city especially in the downtown area. The amount of parking lots is just fat on the downtown. Trim the fat and downtown will be better than ever. Mayor Evan 2019! Check out some of my post on facebook under Wish-TVs facebook page.

  • I live a walking distance from the strip. I’ve been to Brothers once, and I might not even go to Kilroy’s, since it’s not the type of place I like. However, saying “we don’t need another bar” is a lost argument. The strip is an entertainment district, which has recently seen development eastward (10-01 & Thr3e Wise Men). It will continue to be the night out destination and the reason why Broad Ripple is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Indianapolis. This in a sense will support a development of other businesses around. You want more “family restaurants”, well walk north, and you will see Canal, 3 Sisters, La Piedad, Rene’s Bakery, etc. All of them indirectly benefit from the strip development, even if it means yet another bar. I will start worrying when there won’t be much interest to open another bar/restaurant on the strip.

    • I think that’s a decent point. There’s still a few places on the strip that aren’t hate-able…India Garden, Union Jack’s, Indy CD and Vinyl, Broad Ripple Bagel Co to name a few. When I think of Broad Ripple, I try to focus on the stuff I like and avoid the stuff I know I won’t. It’s pretty simple.

    • Restaurants east of the Monon are not a recent thing. The strip mall has been full of them for 20 years; Applebees is at least 15 years old, and there have always been more places down toward Keystone. (10-01 was a restaurant called “Broad Ripple Lumber Company” 30 years ago before it was converted to offices.)

      • That’s right. And I realize that. The strip will continue to have its ups and downs, transformations, etc. That’s why I think BRVA is fighting a losing battle. The recent re-development of those two sites with the new trendy brewery and a somewhat upscale (for BR anyway) restaurant are good news.

        I am not ecstatic over Kilroy’s, but that’s more a matter of personal preference, age, etc…For instance, I think that the Mass Ave is more sophisticated than the strip (I wish we had Chatterbox or Global Gifts….and no, Village Experience store doesn’t count), but both are examples of desirable destinations/neighborhoods.

  • The Kilroy’s downtown and the (soon to be) Broad Ripple are not owned by the same people in Bloomington. This is a seperate group of investors that are paying for use of the name and some menu items to cash in on the large IU graduate population in Indianapolis. FYI

    • Some menu items: “40 varieties of Long Island iced tea, 120 different shots and the famous stuffed breadsticks.” That’s what these investors promote about their downtown location. Broad Ripple does not need any more places to get drunk! If IU grads need more of it, let them find it elsewhere.

  • Developments like this are nice but as people said Broad Ripple has more than its fair share of bars. We NEED to focus more development projects on Downtown. In the Future the heart and driving force of the great city of Indianapolis will be keeping the downtown new and interesting. It must always be the center of our city. We need to clear the parking lots in downtown and start construction on new skyscrapers in downtown. Its time to go higher than the Chase tower. Thats a 90s milestone we need a new milestone for Indy in the 2000s and we need to up our height and power. Indy must also clear out the scumbags that contiune to cause pain and suffering in our city. Crime MUST NOT be tolorated whatsoever. First step to reduce crime is get all the kids back to school HOLD PARENTS accountable! This lets throw more money into the school system crap doesn’t work only holding parents accountable for their kids does.
    The Political Crap thats in Washington/Indiana/Indianapolis needs to stop. I would suggest talking to some Fortune 1000 or 500 companies and see if any of them will relocate to Indianapolis. We have some companies in Chicago that are paying brutal taxes all it takes for businesses to come here is they need to make money in the long run. That doesn’t mean give them millions like we do to the colts and Pacers it means using Tax Credits responsibly and clear more land for development in downtown.

    • Evan, I only visit this blog infrequently, but already your off-topic thread posts are beginning to grow tiring. Yes, you’ve told us you want to run for office in Indy.

      Now might be the time to hone your political skills and stick with talking the issue on the table, not shifting from Kilroy’s in Broad Ripple to a weak version of a stump speech with ideas all over the map.

  • Well Jeffrey i am not against this. I personally am not against any development that employs people but i don’t see why we should throw a block party over something like this. Some development like this is Meh its good but like a drop in the bucket. Its alright though i still have 8 years before i can legally run cause i am moving to Indy in 2 years and you have to live in the city for 5 years.

  • I find it interesting to watch the balance this website trys to find between promoting urban development and efficiency in parking, traffic flow……….That is the biggest issue here for me. If the garage is sufficient in providing enough parking to draw people away from parking in neighborhoods and surrounding areas then I think another bar is a good thing. I have always wondered why Broad Ripple doesn’t do a better job drawing people from downtown during the Indy 500, Brickyard, Final Four, and other large events. It could and should be a great tourist attraction but lacks any type of hotel accomodations. I would focus on enough parking to be able to prohibit parking in the surrounding neighborhoods (maybe go to a permit parking system) and accomodations to be able to attract out of town visitors as well. Let the market handle how many bars are required.

  • Hotel accommodations? There’s literally nothing to do there, except get drunk. I don’t understand Hoosiers’ fascination with Broad Ripple. It is not the most distinctive or urban neighborhood in the city, and yet people in this town speak of it like it’s Midtown Manhattan or something because of the nine billion bars the area has. I think that says more about Indianapolis as a whole–and not in a good way, when the most poppin’ place in a city of 2 million is a two-block long stretch of single story bars located nowhere near downtown. How about we spend more time and energy investing in the other gems in this city, like Irvington and the Old Northside? These areas have tremendous potential, and their successes will continue to help make urban living less of a “niche” here in Indianapolis. Nevertheless, I digress. Go ahead and let them move in. When you have this many bars, what’s an extra one or two or three? Pretty soon we’ll be comparing Ripple to cities like Paris and London!

    • Metro, I don’t think Hoosiers as a whole have any fascination with Broad Ripple. I think it is simply a popular neighborhood in Indianapolis among people who reside in the metro area. The nightlife, of course, appeals to the 21-35 year-old demographic (and younger folks who would like to be a part of it). However, there is plenty else to do in the neighborhood than to drink. There are several boutiques and other stores and restaurants open during the day when the bars are all closed. These businesses appeal to a more mature and affluent crowd, though this is not to say that group would only going to Broad Ripple for shopping, dining, etc. (see my comment about downtown below). Of course, there is the Monon Trail and the Canal path that pass through the neighborhood and provide recreational opportunities. There are also busineses that serve the needs of those who live in the neighborhood. And, speaking of residents, there are is a huge residential component to the neighborhood that has nothing to do with the bar scene. So, yes, Broad Ripple is known for its nightlife, but that is not the only thing it has to offer.

      As for what is the “most poppin’ place” in the city, I would say that the vast majorit of residents of Indianapolis would reserve that title for downtown. Downtown has far more energy and things to do than Broad Ripple, day or night. Also, most vistors coming to the city are proudly taken to downtown, not Broad Ripple.

      Finally, I have never heard anyone compare Broad Ripple to Midtown Manhattan. I have heard a few boosters try to claim that it is the Indianapolis version of SoHo or Chelsea, but I do not think anyone has taken them seriously. Also, the Old Northside is hardly a neglected place today. It underwent gentrification beginning in the 1970’s, and it is now one of the more desirable neighborhoods in the city (returning to a status it held during its glory days of over a century ago). I would agree with you that Irvington has a lot of untapped potentional, but I am not sure how that is relevant to whether another bar should or should not be permitted to open in Broad Ripple.

  • There is plenty to do there beside getting drunk. And as far as hotel accommodations, there was a proposal not so long ago for Hotel Broad Ripple at 6520 Westfield Boulevard by Monon Trail.

  • Well Metro I enjoy your sarcasm. Few things. Many areas Indy has no viable public transportation so I think hotel accomodations would help if someone from out of town did want to go to Broad Ripple ( even if it is just getting drunk). Not to mention the city is so spread out that most North Siders only make occasional trips downtown and go to Broad Ripple or farther north when they go out. South Siders rarely make it past downtown. My second point would be me and my wife go to Broad Ripple to take walks during the summer, to eat at La Piedad, and to do other things other than get drunk. Don’t forget there is an art Museum and outdoor concerts as well. Lastly, everyone I have taken there from out of town enjoyed seeing a different part of the city other than downtown. No I don’t think it is Manhattan but it is what we have. And what is wrong with a fun place to just get drunk:)

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