Residents on Indy’s near north side disappointed council will hear defeated apartment project plan

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INDIANAPOLIS — When the Metropolitan Development Commission unanimously voted down a proposed apartment building project for the 2200 block of North College Avenue last month, Fall Creek Place residents thought they had finally won their battle against a developer’s plans.

“I thought there is no way the city is going to allow this,” said neighbor Heidi Kent. “It makes no sense logically for the area. It’s too big. It doesn’t fit and integrate visually, so it doesn’t create a good quality of life for the people that would be living here, and it doesn’t allow them to integrate with the community.”

Citizens Park, as Circle City Property Management & Development LLC titled the proposed site, would house perhaps as many as 100 residents in 38 apartments inside a three-story building with very little exterior buffer space on nearly an acre of property.

The first floor would feature mixed-use development, including retail space along with a parking garage.

The second floor would contain a greenspace and courtyard.

The neighbors claim the proposed building is too big with too many people, and with parking garage entrances and exits either off College Avenue or a back alley, it’s too dangerous and crowded for current residents.

“It’s a lot for a small space, so you’re really going to be cramming people into little, square boxes,” said Kent.  “If you add a car every two minutes to this alley, you can’t sustain it. That’s too busy, and that drastically increases the safety concerns for all the neighbors and all the kids that live in this area as well as the tenants, and it’s just not sustainable.”

Developer Eric Armstrong is seeking tax credits to undertake the construction and has made a commitment to provide affordable housing for working tenants.

He’s proposed a building with no back windows overlooking that alley to protect the privacy of existing neighbors.

Princess Gamby has lived across the alley from the proposed site for 13 years.

“It’s gonna be like a prison to me, coming out and I’m seeing a big prison behind my house,” she said. “My concerns is people just hanging out littering because they have nowhere to go, children playing back here where cars are going cuz they have nowhere to play.”

While the neighbors acknowledge there are buildings of equal height in the larger neighborhood, they don’t feature the density that Armstrong’s proposed development would.

“If you’ve got a hundred more people, there’s no way that we can all know each other and they can properly integrate with the neighborhood,” said Kent.

Neighbor Jan Mensz spoke up in favor of the development during last month’s MDC meeting.

“I believe we would all benefit from the relationships and perspective that come from residing in a more economically and diverse neighborhood,” he said.

During the commission meeting, Metro Development staffers indicated their conditional approval of the project, recognizing that the unsettled details of the parking garage ingress and egress needed to be resolved.

That doubt was enough for commissioners to unanimously vote down the plan.

But last Friday, City-County Councilor Zach Adamson told the neighbors he would “call down” the proposal at Monday night’s council meeting, essentially exercising councilor prerogative to take a second look at a proposal previously turned down by an appointed board.

Adamson told CBS4 that he doubted the MDC had the full picture regarding the garage entrance and exit options and that the commission did not have any issues with the size of the proposed building or its density.

The councilor said his move to keep the proposal alive means it will go before the full Council September 27, giving both the developer and the opponents one last chance to make their case for either the confirmation or reversal of the MDC decision.

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