Bent Rail Proposal Downscales (Again)

The proposal to remodel the former Monon Fitness Center building at 5301 Winthrop Avenue has taken yet another step towards satisfying some vocal opponents.  According to Misha Rabinowitch, the attorney for the proposal, the project has been downsized again.  Here are the details relayed to me by Mary Owens from the Meridian Kessler Neighborhood Association:

  • Revised site plan significantly reducing the size of the outdoor space and increasing the amount of onsite parking to 79 (from 54)
  • Identifying the parking along Winthrop Ave. as parallel parking, which eliminates the need for a variance related to parking along Winthrop Ave.
  • Removing the concepts of pre-ticketed concerts and special events such that the maximum capacity at all times is 600.  350 seats inside and 150 seats outside, with some potential standing room.
  • 1 year trial run commitment with respect to outdoor amplified sound.

Here is a look at the new site plan:

bent rail

I’m awaiting confirmation about the bicycle parking.  Originally, the proposal included an indoor bicycle parking facility. It would be a shame if it were removed for the addition of a few parking spaces, but the index at the top of the site plan mentions that there will be space for 100+ bicycles.  Regardless, this project will still be a win for the neighborhood.
The hearing before the MDC is scheduled for 1 PM on February 6th at the City County Building’s Public Assembly Room.  I hope to be there as a project supporter (and relatively close neighbor).

Comments 26

  • I’m glad they are switching the plan to parallel parking along Winthrop, but from looking at this site plan, I don’t see how that eliminates the need for a variance there. If it is truly private parking to be controlled by the business, it is required to be accessed from the site and contain its maneuvering area on the private property. This plan appears to push the parking onto private property, but be accessed directly from the public right-of-way, which I understand to require a variance. I would prefer to see public parking in the public right-of-way. This appears to waste a bunch of public right-of-way and preclude the option of a public sidewalk on this side of the street.

    • This seems like such a nit-pick to me. No one parks there anyway. What do you care if the public parking spaces are lost?

      • Dustin,

        The complaint was mostly about not having a public sidewalk because they are using that public space to get in and out of private parking spaces.

        But from the parking standpoint, noone parks there now, because there’s no shortage of parking now. When parking becomes scarce with redevelopment, that will change. One of the key benefits of public on-street parking is to provide convenient shared parking that can be used by different users at different times of the day. When it is controlled by only one entity, that shared benefit is lost.

  • Please, can we get this approved now? This project is a huge positive reuse of this site.

  • So sad to see this reintroduced with significantly more parking compared to prior versions.

    Regardless, I hope it goes through.

  • What is sad is to watch something that started out unique for our community get dumbed down by the city, competing businesses and short sighted planning. I am sorry, but it looks like parking won out over substance, bikes, and use. Also, the parking out front was actually determined by the city and not those involved with the project. I believe the change was made at the neighborhood meeting in December. This would allow the city to further add side walks, greenway and new utilities between 54th to 52nd streets with a TIF grant. MKNA has been talking about this at several of the last meetings. Goes to show if you want cool places to go and things that make us unique from other cities you have to support them!

  • I’m entirely sympathetic to adjacent homeowners having issues with the potential noise from the outdoor entertainment component. Can you imagine having bought a house across the street from a mild retail activity like an exercise facility only to have that space turn into a controlled-access live outdoor music venue for hundreds of people? I’d be a little upset if that was me.

    Otherwise, the forces at work reducing the size of the outdoor space and increasing the required parking ought to be ashamed. This very creative project has been neutered of some of the more creative elements, particularly the bike parking.

    • At the hearing downtown the project was almost unanimously supported by the neighbors across the street. All of those houses are commercially zoned as well. It was the houses two and three blocks over that formed the opposition along with other restaurant owners and some folks who just don’t want another place you can have a drink and eat I guess. I was really looking forward to riding my bike there with my family and eating outside in the early afternoons….

    • It’s funny how zoning officials turn the other check on requiring parking at drinking establishments of all places. Yeah, you’re not going to have any drunk drivers at this place so be sure to discourage biking and taking a taxi.

    • I do live across the street and the gym wasn’t all you think it was… Far from quiet and quite scary… Thugs rolled up in their jacked up ghetto cars with music blaring. The gym brought more drugs and guns into the neighborhood than anything else… Theres a reason they failed. And the city and neighborhood is concerned about sidewalks! Are you kidding me? Take a walk down that street. In places the sidewalks have crumbled away to nothing. I’ve tried for a decade to get the city to replace them… To no avail. It’s beyond me as to why there would be so much resistance to these action oriented guys that want to transform my neighborhood into something great. Sit on your high horse and keep on criticizing and meeting and planning and before you know it, action oriented visionaries will just keep moving out of this city in favor of places like Louisville CO. Look it up. It’s a model that the neighborhood oriented south boulder area should be replicating and the 5200 and 5300 blocks of Winthrop are the perfect spots to anchor the “main street” component of this vibrant urban concept

  • I live two blocks away from this site, and I shared my neighbors previous concerns with the size of the concert venue in the original proposal. This new proposal looks excellent! I want this in my neighborhood! I am so glad that Bent Rail is trying to be a good neighbor, listening to our concerns, and didn’t simply walk away. The abandoned Monon Fitness center is a graffiti-covered piece of urban blight and I can’t wait to be rid of it.

  • This is great – Will be a success for sure. Thanks to the Bent Rail and development team for working with the neighborhoods. This area will continue to organically become popular and the extra spots will be needed for the demand this and the developments to the north create.

  • I don’t get why the handicapped and bike spaces are in the street. That seems like the last place I’d want to park if I was handicapped or leave my bike. In general, it seems like there are a lot of parking spaces and the outdoor respit area is mostly just going to be within parking. Maybe they’ll screen it or something.

  • Where’s the landscape around the lot? Being unfamiliar with Indy’s Urban Zoning I would assume there would be so many trees per spaces provided and it would be a shame if all are just thrown in on the east side buffer while there are 15+ spaces in a row without any island to not only break up a long (and unpleasing swath of pavement, but also provide shade and reduce the heat absorption. Disappointing site design.

    • The commercial zoning ordinance doesn’t necessarily require side-yard or rear landscaping when the parcel adjoins other commercial property.

  • This revised site plan is an improvement. We live 5 blocks away and were delighted at the prospect of some development in that neglected former industrial area but daunted by the prospect of disruptive “concerts.” Please don’t be dismissive of neighbors’ legal right to “peaceful enjoyment” of their property. MKNA, DMD staff and the Developer are to be commended for going back to the table to negotiate in good faith and come up with a good alternative site plan. I do wish the Winthrop streetscape and the Monon frontage had benefited from some landscaping & street trees and also would like to see specific sites for the bike parking over and above the racks on Winthrop. There may still be time to recommend such minor alterations. I predict Bent Rail will be hugely successful.

  • Glad this will move forward. Disappointed that they had to make changes due to a vocal minority.

  • Am I missing the sidewalk on Winthrop Avenue? Is it between the street and the parallel parked cars?

  • Revised again –

    “There shall be no live electronically amplified outdoor music.”

  • I haven’t seen much activity at their location. Does anyone have an update on progress or potential opening timeframe?

    • This is from their Facebook page:

      Looks like we are in track for a February opening. Menu and kitchen layout is finished and we are finalizing the brewery layout. Updates will start coming quickly! Can’t wait to have everyone in for a pint and a bite to eat!

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