Momentum toward an April groundbreaking on a $37 million mixed-use development in Speedway could slow, should a group of neighboring business owners on Main Street prevail in seeking a timeout. A pair of Indianapolis developers are planning a 140-key hotel, about 90 apartments and condominiums, and retail space at the north end of Main Street called the Wilshaw project.
Next month the Town Council and the Speedway Redevelopment Commission will cast final votes on financial incentives, but not before shopkeepers plead for a solution for what they view as a major problem waiting to happen: a parking fiasco.
The project, planned along Main Street and thoroughfare Crawfordsville Road near Indianapolis Motor Speedway, initially excited nearby business owners, said Marie Hall, owner of Three Sisters and A Trunk. Then plans for the development's parking garage changed. “I do not want to stop progress,” Hall said. “I love what they are doing in Speedway. But they need to do it right.”
An early pitch for the project called for a $10 million parking garage with 500 spaces. The proposal suggested that the garage would be built first, to accommodate both construction workers and shopkeepers' customers during construction of the rest of the project.
But plans changed. The size of the proposed parking garage was reduced by half. "Anything that's pitched is not a deal," said Tim Jensen, a consultant for the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. The town and the developers — Scannell Properties and Loftus Robinson, which is behind the $30 million Switch mixed-use project in Fishers and the J.F. Wild Building in Indianapolis — halved the size of the parking garage to reduce costs, Jensen said.
The town plans to issue bonds to pay for the parking garage. The bonds would be paid back through a tax-increment financing district. Developers now also want to build the garage at the same time as the rest of the project to save money. Both changes have Hall and other business owners on edge. An existing parking lot would be eliminated to make way for the development, and shopkeepers fear construction workers would gobble up other available parking in the area. A petition is circulating that calls for the town to pause on the project until a better resolution to the parking situation is found.
“If they don’t address the parking, then we’ll all just die a slow death,” said Chris Hill, owner of the Dawson’s on Main restaurant, which is just south of the proposed development. The Speedway Redevelopment Commission has formed a parking committee to look for solutions. Hall, a member of the committee, is asking the town to delay construction until the commission has come up with a plan.
The town has suggested that employees of affected businesses use a parking lot owned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the other side of the roundabout on Crawfordsville Road, which would free up parking spaces near the businesses for customers. Sidewalks around the roundabout provide access to all sides. The town also is looking at additional ways to slow traffic in the area to increase safety for pedestrians crossing Crawfordsville Road. The lot is about a half-mile from most businesses on the north end of Main Street, and Hill remains concerned about safety, inclement weather and convenience. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if you can’t find parking, you aren’t going to come,” Hill said.
Another proposal calls for the Speedway Redevelopment Commission to lease parking spaces from other private lot owners. Jensen and Vince Noblet, president of the Speedway Redevelopment Commission, will discuss possible parking solutions Jan. 17 at the commission's 6 p.m. meeting at Speedway Town Hall, 1450 N. Lynhurst Drive.
Lets just hope there is plans to create a common sense approach here now and keep all this alive and progressing as its amazing to see the area change and yet retain and it would be a crying shame for it to go backward in any direction now thats for sure.
I'll keep you posted on anything I here.