Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Editorial Details BRVA's Attempt to Turn Broad Ripple Village Into Broad Ripple Big City

A guest editorial by "Mike":
Since 1967, the BRVA has been the "only game in town.". And why not? The Village is a pretty small town. Over the years, they watched over things in Broad Ripple, tried to make things interesting and have some fun.

Because of that, you and I got the idea that the BRVA was a community organization ...a group that looked out for all of us and worked to preserve the Broad Ripple we all love.

That was our bad. The BRVA is a business organization.

That's OK. What would Broad Ripple be without all the little shops and bars and restaurants? There was never any BIG money to be made the businesses looked out for the residents and visitors and vice-versa.

Until the BIG money came to the Village.

Let's face it ...for all of the wonderful new village-like things that have happened in other neighborhoods and downtown ...Broad Ripple is the coolest and the original.

The only problem was ...there was never any way to make any BIG money from it.

That changed 2 or 3 years ago.

BIG corporations that wanted to pretend that they were small, locally-owned shops developed plans to get taxpayer money to install themselves in the coolest neighborhoods in every city in America.

Those corporations perfected their plan with the magic ingredient of TIF funds.

NOW, not only did the BIG corporations (pretending to be local small shops) get to bring their BIG bucks to influence governments and community organizations ...they got the locals to pay for a BIG chunk of their plans.

It worked like a dream.

Then they came to Broad Ripple.

The BRVA absolutely loved it. Finally BIG money was coming to the village. Finally there was a way to make a profit from tending to the concerns of a cool little place that everybody loves.

There was a river. There was a village. Finally there was a buyer. They could finally sell that village down that river.

A direct payout of cash wasn't exactly necessary. Promises of cash were enough for some ...especially in a struggling economy.

Promises of more business for existing shops were enough for others.

Promises of (finally!) BIG-paying jobs! Let's all keep an eye on where Brooke Klejnot goes to work next!

Finally, BRVA will have a BIG dues-paying member to funnel BIG thank you bucks into BRVA they won't have to waste so much time representing the people, the barbershop, the health food store, the bar they don't really like.

Please Say NO, Broad Ripple can do it.

And please Say NO all lovers of Broad Ripple can help SO much!

Residents and Private Citizens are not being represented at all. Please show up at the BRVA sham-meetings and the City-County Building. Without you nothing can stop the developers.

Small Business Owners know in your hearts this will not help you. The BRVA and its new friends will BIG foot you into the dust.

Professionals ...please lend a hand and friendly advice to ordinary people who are fighting back for what might be the first and last time in their lives.

Elected Representatives do the right thing. These TIF funds were meant for neighborhoods that haven't seen investment in decades ...not BR which just got a $17 million parking garage.

Keep Broad Ripple Local,


Paul K. Ogden said...

I would point out though that at the end the editorial it says Broad Ripple got a $17 million parking garage. There is no evidence that's a $17 million structure. The Indianapolis Star priced out similar garages and found they went for about $6 to $7 million. The taxpayers contribution up front is $6.35 million. They were only claiming it was a $15 million structure for the purpose of suggesting Keystone was paying for a significant portion of the building. There is no proof that Keystone contributed anything to paying for the structure. Of course, though, Keystone got 100% ownership, 100% of the parking revenue and 100% of the commercial rents.

Had Enough Indy? said...

The BRVA is well known to be a business organization with a token resident or two. This is NOT a neighborhood association, although that is precisely what they parade around pretending to be.

Some councillors are fooled; probably because they really don't care as long as the contributions roll in.

How the BRVA was ever deemed integral to the real neighborhood enough, to be annointed to create a neighborhood plan is beyond me and a complete farce on what a neighborhood is. Hell, you don't even have to be a neighbor to help these yucks do the 'planning'.

The BRVA is not the Broad Ripple neighborhood, nor can it adequately represent the interests of those who live and have invested there.

While they have many failings associated with a closed group of business owners, their first sin is not to be representative of the actual Broad Ripple neighborhood.

Mark said...

There is no shortage of diatribes demonizing the Broad Ripple Village Association, and a lot of misinformation being spread as fact.

For starters, the BRVA is not a ”closed group of business owners.” The organization offers resident and business memberships, and its meetings are open to everyone, members or not. Some of the board members are business owners, some are residents, some are both. (Just for the heck of it, surf on over to and take a few minutes to read about it.)

Demonizing them makes it easy to lose sight of the fact that they are volunteers who donate their time to try to make their neighborhood a better place for everyone. They have put a lot of effort into developing a comprehensive plan that details their vision for Broad Ripple, but they didn’t do it in secret — they made presentations, and asked for input from the public as well as from professional planners.

And for what? As a reward for their efforts, they get ad-hominem attacks and rarely any thanks. People complain about parking problems, a parking garage is built, then people complain about the garage. It must take a special kind of person to not just say “why do I bother?” and walk away.

Let’s look at it this way: The BRVA board members are activists, in that they are actively trying to improve their neighborhood. The people who have negatively reacted to the BRVA’s actions are reactionaries. This reminds me quite a bit of the current situation in Congress, where the Democrats keep coming up with plans they think will help move the country ahead and the Republicans keep saying no.

It seems that the one thing that has really galvanized opposition to this project is the choice of Whole Foods to anchor the retail component because of fears that it will have a negative impact on the locally-owned Good Earth. There was similar hand-wringing when Wild Oats arrived in Nora in 1998. I knew Good Earth founder Bob Landman, and he shrugged the new competition off, confident that his store would persevere. And it has, despite the mainstreaming of organic products into large supermarkets, the rise of farmers markets, and the arrival of Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market. Similarly, locally-owned Broad Ripple eateries seem to be doing just fine, despite the presence of quite a few chain restaurants. (And by the way, where was the indignation when Kinko’s went in practically right next to Apple Press, or when Starbucks took a space a block away from the Monon Coffee Company?)

Caterpillar once ran a series of ads that featured opposing viewpoints on a number of issues with the tag line “There are no easy answers, just intelligent solutions.” Those solutions would be a lot easier to come by if people would step back, take a deep breath, and approach issues more with a spirit of cooperation than confrontation. But if they did, it just wouldn’t be Broad Ripple, would it?

Full disclosure: I used to hang out in Broad Ripple in the late 1960s and the ’70s, and owned a business there in the ’80s and ’90s. Now I live and work elsewhere, but check in from time to time to see what’s going on in the Village. Apparently nothing has really changed — it’s still as dysfunctional as ever.

Blog Admin said...

I am a supporter of local businesses and often go out of my way to eat at a locally owned restaurant or shop at a locally owned store, sometimes even if a chain will have the same product at a lower price.

I'm also against the currently proposed mixed-use structure. I'm not dead set against the residential, and I'd be open to retail if there was a business or two bought in that the Village and surrounding areas actually need. But a grocery store isn't one of them, and just across the street, the parking garage retail part still has space to fill.

That being said, I don't like the NIMBY parts of "keep X local". Many moons ago, that might've been realistic. But Broad Ripple has long since past that point. There are chains in Broad Ripple, both national and stores that originated in other parts of Indiana. But the key to these chains is they've adapted a bit to fit into the Village.

And one of the unfortunate parts of being in a high demand area is that rent and property value go up. This makes it harder for a niche art gallery or retailer to stay open,but a lot easier for a bank or a bar to do it. Similarly, over in Mass Ave, we see a lot of non-retail, non-food businesses dot the area probably because those businesses are less recession proof than hipster cafes and old movie stores.

This doesn't mean any chain should plot their stuff into Broad Ripple. But if their proposal fits into the area, I don't see what the problem is in that regard

Anonymous said...

BRVA is as much a neighborhood organization as any other, which simply means its as good as neighbors allow it to be by participating. It holds annual open elections, and they aren't limited to business owners. Like all neighborhood associations, it operates on a shoestring budget, and has fixed membership dues. It wouldn't make more if Trump Towers Broad Ripple moved in.

BRVA had absolutely nothing to do with the funding of the parking garage, but a lot, do to residential neighbor complaints about parking, to do with urging the City to explore parking solutions.

The Neighborhood Plan was the result of hundreds of people coming together to express their vision for the neighborhood, and of those hundreds, most were residents, not business owners.

Likewise, it won't exercise control over the TIF, tho' it will provide one voice in five that will collectively express preferences to the MDC.

I know you guys hate TIF. There's nothing wrong with taking that position, and presumably you'll all work diligently to elect public officials who agree with that position. Right now, however, all BRVA is doing, is trying to formulate their position on a ZONING issue, and they won't have final say on that either. Since there IS a TIF District, any new construction in that District (and because it's an urban area, any new contraction involves rezoning) could apply for funding from the TIF. Staking out a position that nothing should ever be rezoned because of that is simply silly.

Racoon said...

To Paul's observation: Nominally public parking garages make for a convenient way to disguise subsidies for private development.

Here's what took place in Seattle in 1998, as part of an effort to improve its downtown retail district and prepare for its growth (this specific area was a little messy thanks to a clumsy old monorail station above a street intersection, creating a dead-space where transient vendors sold rugs and other wares):

The City of Seattle authorizes the issuance of $74.5 million in councilmanic bonds to purchase --from developers of the new $400 million downtown Pacific Place shopping center-- a 1,200 stall underground parking garage constructed jointly with Pacific Place. (Ordinance 119155) The city's purchase of the garage is part of a deal that moves the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store into a larger, refurbished building that formerly housed Frederick & Nelson's flagship store. Subsequent press reports reveal the city paid Pacific Place's developer $23 million more than the garage's estimated $51 million construction cost.

Rick Wilkerson said...

As another former Broad Ripple business owner, I am pretty horrified by both the parking garage and this new development. I appreciate Mark's clarifications about the BRVA as there has been a lot of misinfo there.

However, it's not about protecting The Good Earth from competition. No existing business should have to deal with taxpayer-subsidized competition dropped next door, though, which is what Whole Foods would be for The Good Earth. They may, or may not survive it, but why subject them to it?

While the BRVA may indeed be trying to do the right thing, if so they've fallen victim to city hall's pay-to-play insider enrichment schemes in order to attract development. The parking garage is clearly a sham, and the Whole Foods development should be worth doing without TIF funding.

Blog Admin said...

Not just without TIF funding, but public subsidy period. I'm fine with the re-zoning and maybe even a variance or two given out. I think the minimum amount of parking spaces, for example, for most businesses borders on ridiculous. And I'm fine with mixed-use structures as well. I also don't think Whole Foods is necessarily a death sentence for Good Earth, as we see the co-existence of both Starbucks and several local coffee establishments.

But if we're going to throw public money at it, it better be providing a need that is currently unfulfilled. And high cost apartments, likely dislocating the residents currently there, and another grocery store isn't something needed in this area. It is a want, a luxury, and for that, the developer and businesses should pay their own way.

Now if they wanna do this elsewhere in the TIF, where a grocery store would be in more demand, that's another discussion.

Pete Boggs said...

TIFFs historically become slush funds, for uses other than those upon which they're predicated. However, fund misappropriation is simply the aftermath of a corrupt template; one of government picking winners & losers.

It's difficult to count the number of wild rabbits (read unelected taxing entities unaccountable to tax payers), that bloat Indiana's aggregate indebtedness beyond Constitutional limits. Yes, those limits actually exist.

If rules matter (rule vs. rue of law), these TIFFs are unconstitutional in their limitless expansion of taxation, and without representation; proportional or otherwise.

TIFFs are a substandard of malpractice, of failed or undisclosed encumbrance upon taxpayers (failing best practices of consumer lending or SEC oversight) ; reliant instead, on the deception of inadequate disclosure & uninformed consent.

TIFFs can be said to be moral, in a pyramid scheme kinda way...