INDIANAPOLIS — All that’s left of the former Kroger in the Broad Ripple Village is a few walls that have not been torn down yet. What’s next in the vacant spot is a $70-million apartment building.

It was all smiles Thursday afternoon where the Kroger used to sit on Guilford Avenue in Broad Ripple. The developers of Versa, the new apartment complex, broke ceremonial ground with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and others from the city.

Versa will be a mixed-use development with more than 230 apartment units and retail space at the base of the building.

It’s being built where a Kroger used to serve the community for decades before it closed during the pandemic.

Rea Best manages Broad Ripple Barber Shop right next door. She has fond memories of the Kroger and misses it.

”Everything Kroger was and how it was so lively and vibrant next to us,” Best said.

Other business owners and neighbors we talked to shared similar thoughts but agreed it’s good the lot won’t be vacant any longer.

”I hope that it just brings in more people who want to be in the community,” said Julian Orem, the general manager of Broad Ripple Bagel Deli.

The Broad Ripple Village has been no stranger to change. Broad Ripple Avenue has been torn up as crews build new sidewalks to make the main drag of the village more walkable. It’s all part of a $271-million dollar project in the area.

The future looks exciting, but Best worries Broad Ripple is forgetting what it used to be.

”It seems like it’s loosing that village feel,” Best said.

But Jordan Dillon with the Broad Ripple Village Association said they can have both.

”We can be funky and we can be sleek at the same time,” Dillon said. “We can have larger buildings, and we can also have our small bungalow businesses and bungalow homes.”

Neighbors and business owners we talked to also worry about if there are people to fill all of these apartments.

Three other recently-new apartment buildings can be seen from where Versa will be on Guilford Avenue right next to Kilroy’s Bar and Grill.

But Dillon said the demand is there.

”There’s a desire to still be here in this community, to live here and to work here,” she said.

Others are looking at the positives. Todd Nagy lives a few blocks over from the new development and said it’s already made the neighborhood safer. When construction started, a fence went up around the vacant parking lot, which Nagy said had been a problem spot.

”This has been a huge issue here in Broad Ripple,” Nagy said. “People aren’t necessarily going into the establishments, they are partying in the parking lots and on the streets.”

Best agreed. She said the alley her business shares with the parking lot has been much cleaner since the fence went up.

”We would have so much trash and things we would have to pick up after a weekend of just partying over there. There were so many cars,” Best said.

Broad Ripple is coming off an especially violent weekend for the area that featured three separate shootings in less than three days, including one caught on video. You can hear multiple shots being fired, and police reports show more than 90 shell casings found in the area.

Mayor Hogsett mentioned the benefits of filling a vacant lot in his remarks at the ground breaking Thursday.

”It naturally promotes safer streets, at all times and all hours of the day,” Hogsett said.

Dillon agrees.

”It limits those nooks and crannies where people are able to come in and do those unsavory activities,” she said.

But getting rid of a parking lot does mean less parking for people coming to Broad Ripple. The area is already losing parking with the construction on Broad Ripple Avenue. One business owner said he’s not worried.

”People find a way to come into town. It’s a place worth coming to,” said Orem.

Overall, people we talked to are optimistic about the future of Broad Ripple that seems to be headed there way fast.

”Once it’s done, it’ll be good for the community,” Nagy said.

The Versa Project is expected to finish in two years.