City leaders react to often empty Broad Ripple parking garage

Garage owners yet to implement many suggestions

INDIANAPOLIS - A Call 6 Investigation into problems at the Broad Ripple parking garage , built with $6.35 million in public money, is prompting reaction from city leaders.

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney counted cars day and night throughout the fall and found the garage is 6 percent full on average and 20 percent full at peak times, including special event nights at the Vogue.

Kenney learned Tuesday the Broad Ripple Village Association sent a list of suggestions to the garage’s owner and manager, Keystone and Newpoint Parking respectively, back in September but many of the suggestions have yet to be implemented.

Among the suggestions: charge a $5 flat weekend rate like they do downtown, flag people into the garage, distribute free parking passes to businesses to encourage customers to use the garage and add signage along major thoroughfares to guide visitors into the garage.

"If you were to drive down some of the key corridors to get into Broad Ripple, Keystone Avenue, College Avenue, Broad Ripple Avenue, there’s no way finding signage that says 'there’s public parking this way,'"  said Brooke Klejnot, executive director for the Broad Ripple Village Association on Tuesday.

In September, the BRVA also suggested posting parking prices outside the garage.

Keystone and Newpoint Parking did not post the parking rate signs outside the garage until after the Call 6 Investigators started asking questions and code enforcement found the garage in violation of city code .

"It takes an awareness campaign to get people to change their habits, otherwise people are going to do what they’ve done for the last several years and they’re going to find their spots in the residential area," Klejnot said.

The Broad Ripple Village Association conducted a survey over a three-week period in October regarding a residential parking permit program.

346 people responded.

"Actually, the feedback is mixed," Klejnot said.

The BRVA’s parking committee will meet November 15 to analyze the results of the survey.

"We’ll be digesting that information and specifically tying the responses to a map to figure out geographically who supports the program and who doesn’t," Klejnot said. 

The IMPD substation was also a big selling point of the garage, but some taxpayers are irked that it has yet to open, despite the garage opening in April 2013.

"That’s a surprise," said Terry Sanderson, a concerned citizen. "It seems to me a better location would have been on the Monon trail. The police could ride their bicycles up and down the trail and it would have been in the heart of Broad Ripple."

IMPD is moving furniture in, but no opening date has been set yet.

Democratic city county councilor Zach Adamson said the $6.4 million from the parking meter deal could have been spent on crumbling sidewalks throughout the city and especially on streets like Delaware and Ohio.

"There are better uses for those dollars (than a parking garage)," said Adamson. "This is long-term neglect. There’s no reason why these sidewalks should look like they are now."

Republican councilor Will Gooden stands behind the garage, saying the BRVA and businesses requested it.

"Quite frankly there was a demand for the garage," Gooden said.

Gooden pointed out although the city gets none of the parking revenue, it will get property taxes from the structure.

"Figure it's about $300,000 annually and that's probably conservative," Gooden said. "That actually goes right back in to the property tax revenue and allows for redevelopment."

Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reached out to Keystone Realty on Tuesday to find out if they plan to implement any of the Broad Ripple Village Association’s suggestions.

Keystone Realty is the developer of the garage, Keystone Construction built the garage and Keystone also owns the garage through a holding company called 6280 LLC.

Kenney has yet to receive a response.

The Broad Ripple Village Association acknowledged empty store fronts, which could be contributing to the garage being empty oftentimes.

"We have heard that some businesses are down 20-30 percent," said Klejnot. "Other neighborhoods are becoming more vibrant like Mass Ave and Fountain Square. I think it just happens when you have more competition."

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6 | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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