Proposed Development at Keystone Crossing


On the north side of Indianapolis, a new development has been proposed for the former Woodfield Center located at the intersection of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue. The newly proposed use has made waves with the surrounding neighborhood to the west upset over the design and an official remonstration has been filed which will be heard on February 20th, by the MDC.

The proposed use for the site, to be named Ironworks, would level the previous (and now long vacant) shopping center and create a new L shaped building that rises 5 stories above Keystone Avenue. It would include commercial space, residential space and would put back on the tax-rolls a parcel that has managed to remain vacant for a number of years now.

Ironworks Site Plan
Ironworks Site Plan

It’s fair to ask, is this design really too urban? The developer has termed this development “mixed use” and the staff report from the city acknowledges this as a new use for the area. An examination of the plan might also conclude that as well due to the large number of apartments and abundance of commercial space contained within the same building; 120 apartments and 31,000 square feet of office space would be provided. Indeed, the only other similar mixed use in this area consists of a recently converted hotel to apartments located within the Keystone at the Crossing complex.

However, a tremendous amount surface parking, coupled with some underground spaces, makes this proposal decidedly un-urban. The location, in what could arguably be called an edge city (Keystone at the Crossing), is an overly automobile oriented environment. Additionally, the area scores low on the walkability scale. Furthermore, immediately to the south, are a number of office buildings which when viewed by passers by, will not be substantially differentiated from the proposed Ironworks building. There are not a significant amount of transit offerings in this area yet for residents of the proposed development to take advantage of. However, the recently announced IndyGo 86 route will begin service in June offering connections to Castleton and the NW side of Indy.

Ironworks Entrance (rendering)
Ironworks Entrance (rendering)

So where is the rub? Is Nora concerned that commercial development here will erode the residential nature of the 86th street corridor west of Keystone? Will the addition of Ironworks spur further development on the NE side of 86th & Keystone?

To be sure, this development could be a catalyst for continued growth in this area. However, Nora should not be concerned with an erosion of the quality of life that is currently experienced in this area. Most of the residential housing in this area is highly segregated effectively shutting out 86th street and any increased traffic or commercial activity that may be generated in the future.

Ironworks Outdoor Seating (rendering)
Ironworks Outdoor Seating (rendering)

In conclusion, with history as a guide, Nora should welcome this development with open arms as it represents non-city supported commercial investment in a suburban area that could be perceived as old and ripe for decay in the coming decades. Insuring that higher quality commercial and residential interest continues will only serve to keep the highly segregated neighborhoods desirable in the coming years.

Comments 14

  • Woodfield center has already been leveled. This is a done deal in my opinion. Next development is the wooded area north of 86th which is owned by Keystone Construction. That might be a harder sell.

  • The issue here is unchecked growth or lack of focus growth along this corridor. Where does Indy and Carmel want to focus growth, because there are plenty of other sites this could go and standalone mixed use is just a more dense version of sprawl with the same negative environmental impacts. No one will be walking along the front of this building and the residents will be isolated to whatever commercial uses go in. I wouldn’t live here.

    • Agree. It’s as isolated as they come.

    • So, where are the “plenty of other sites” it should go? Developers build places people want to live and work, not in places that the market doesn’t deem favorable. Is Manhattan or China or Timbuktu one of the better “dense” places to build this development?

      At one time even the areas immediately surrounding Monument Circle had farms, but land use changed, the area built up and densified and the city was born.

      Keystone-at-the-Crossing has had its day as a big asphalt parking lot with strip malls and hotels, and it is and will continueto densify and get built up, just like downtown did 150 years before. There is a very robust automobile infrastructure there to let residents of the planned development get anywhere they like in the city very, very quickly. If the issue is that the area needs better transit or sidewalks, then direct more buses to the area and BUILD sidewalks and stop griping about how supposedly “isolated” this main commercial/office drag is in a city/county of about 1 million people.

      Growth happens and it cannot be stopped. You can either plan and accommodate it, or you get steamrolled over trying to oppose it. You cannot stop the tide, nor can you stop new development. So, I would suggest becoming part of the solution, rather than the problem.

      • I think you’re in a bubble. Growth can be stopped (Portland, Britain) or targeted (Comp Plan) if the people in charge choose to do so instead of taking campaign contributions from developers. This is nothing more than highway interchange sprawl veiled in brick. What exactly is the point of building to a highway onramp?

  • Of course it’s an automobile-oriented project, but I think they deserve credit for locating the parking in the rear AND actually (if the renderings are true) designing the front of the building to actually engage the sidewalk, and allow pedestrians to enter the businesses, even though there won’t be that many pedestrians walking up to the site for at least several years to come. As Chris said, we certainly shouldn’t discourage this design based on the fact that the infrastructure and surrounding development isn’t currently set up to safely accommodate a lot of pedestrian traffic and public transit.

    • Yeah, it’s great that the parking is to the rear of the highway onramp. Wouldn’t want that side to be completely auto-oriented. Wait…

  • I am pretty surprised that this project spurred remonstrators, and I agree that residents should support this type of development. My only negative (besides parking, but it’s necessary here), is that the architecture isn’t anything spectacular in this setting. The project’s design hints at old wholesale or factory buildings that can be found downtown. It looks as if they designed the building to fit into context of factory/wholesale buildings and then abruptly changed the site without changing the design. I think structures like this are awesome in a district setting but seem dull when they are by themselves.

  • Yuck, just another Cow-Pie Brown Block Building.

  • I like the development, it’s good to see them recognize the street in this. The thing that needs to happen next is adding a sidewalk under the overpass on Keystone. There are sidewalks on both sides of the street, Indy just needs to make it a safer place for people to walk. Also, I’m not sure who is the architecture firm doing the work on the north side of the street, it could be Axis, I found a rendering of what it might look like. — Site Plan — Rendering

  • Sometimes the urban/suburban judgment calls just have to consider the context. It is more urban than anything else in the area. (Heck, it’s more urban than a lot of the stuff that gets built in our Mile Square.) I agree with Chris and Idyllic that this compromise is still better than what precedes it or what could have gone on there.

    And Curt, at the end you conclude: “Nora should welcome this development with open arms as it represents non-city supported commercial investment in a suburban area that could be perceived as old and ripe for decay in the coming decades.” I couldn’t have put it better. Nora is only 1.5 miles from Carmel. Because it is eminently suburban in character (even considering the context), it would behoove the Nora residents to think in terms of boosting the amenities that are close by, even if they aren’t walkable, because–let’s face it–the density and road design in place will never make Nora remotely urban.

    • Exactly. It’s hard to boast about how this is a great mixed use, urban development given the setting since the building and the block are not mutually exclusive.

  • Just an update, this passed the hearing last week and has been approved.

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