A Better Outcome for Nora: Alexander at the Crossing

The wooded property on the northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd was slated for an intensive commercial development with near clear cutting of trees (“Kite Project”). The goal of renegotiating the development was to seek a better outcome for the Nora community on this important gateway parcel.

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At 3pm Thursday April 5th, negotiations on the Alexander at the Crossing project (zoning case 2016-ZON-020) came to a successful conclusion, with documents filed Friday. This is a summary of the negotiated agreement.

Community Priorities

On March 4th, Driftwood Hills (DH), the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), The Nora Alliance (NA) representatives met together to established a common list of negotiation objectives. Although DH representatives, originally in a leadership role for this process, stepped away in favor of negotiating directly with the developer, NCC, NA, and DH continued to share common overarching goals. Our contacts with DH have been consistent and regular with the DHNA current/past-president and the DHNA new/current president.

Negotiation Objectives

The issues can be summed up as trees/tree canopy, traffic, and protection of the residential neighborhood on the north side of 86th St. Our mutual objectives going into negotiations included the following:

  • commitment on the northern part of the parcel for residential use only with density not to exceed that proposed in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan
  • reduction in Alexander Project surface parking lot area
  • reduction of noise and light pollution
  • Incorporate existing trees of significance into site plan
  • pedestrian safety – signalized crosswalk across 86th St.
  • neighborhood traffic safety concerns
  • area traffic improvements, including light timing and confirming eastbound/westbound turn lanes from Haverstick Rd (while we all agreed the developer isn’t responsible for solving all the 86th St traffic congestion problems in the area, they need to work with the City on solutions)
  • (follow-up (via email) included information about the emergency signaling devices installed but which may not be operational on 86th St that control the lights when emergency vehicles approach. This issue needs to be resolved by City departments (it is not a conflict the developer can resolve), but nonetheless important for Nora safety and we will continue to follow up with Councilor Fanning and City on this important issue.)

Outcome of Negotiations

Negotiation is largely about compromise. With some give-and-take we think we successfully achieved our end goal of a better outcome for the Nora community and the neighborhood of Driftwood Hills, with an improved plan over both the approved Kite Project and the 2017 denied Alexander Project. The project has significant modifications from what was rejected last Fall, with many concessions that greatly improve the project for the community.

The following is a summary of that outcome:

  • Protects residential character of neighborhood and restricts further commercial development
    • Commits adjacent property on the north side (old Alexander “Phase II”) of the development to be for residential use only, with density not to exceed 8 units per acre (the Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan recommends greater than 8.00 and equal to or less than 15.00 units per acre for this area).
    • Provides for a Driftwood Hills neighborhood gateway sign on Haverstick to identify neighborhood.
  • Reduces hard surfaces and improves drainage
    • Reduces total impervious surfaces of development parcel (approximately 70% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Reduces surface parking to not more than 300 spaces (reduced from 363 spaces from old Alexander; 18% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Reduces building footprint to 28,000 square feet (it was 30,000), and allows for alternate building with additional stories and integrated parking (53% reduction from approved Kite Project).
    • Saves a 1.2-acre area that would have been clear-cut for detention pond (preserving nearly 100 trees over 10 caliper inches) by using an underground detention system (100% improvement over approved Kite Project)
  • Decrease noise and light pollution
    • Reduces noise pollution from speakers by limiting their position such that the audio is directed away from the residential neighborhood and strictly adhere to applicable noise or nuisance ordinances (noise was not addressed in Kite Project).
    • Restricts trash pick up to between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m (noise was not addressed in Kite Project).
    • Reduces light pollution from parking lot by featuring full cutoff fixtures, automatic dimming and motion control technology (light was not addressed in Kite Project).
  • Saves Trees
    • Incorporates the existing tree commitments from the approved Kite Project – stringent tree mitigation is still required.
    • Conserves more heritage and significant trees into site plan by conserving a contiguous wooded area on the eastern border of the subject property (1.5 acre increase from approved Kite Project).
    • Protects trees during construction by identifying appropriate equipment staging area and following a qualified tree preservation plan (Kite project would be near clear-cut with no staging area necessary).
    • Keeps the benefits of tree mitigation within the Nora community. In the past, other development tree mitigation have sent tree replacements as far away as the Colts training grounds. The agreement clarifies that replacement trees will stay in Nora, in locations where they make sense.
    • Helps assure replacement trees survive by providing a 2-year tree warranty period (Alexander project previously had 1 -year commitment; Kite Project had no warranty period for mitigated trees).
  • Enhances pedestrian and neighborhood traffic safety
    • Establishes a “Driftwood Hills Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Fund” for the sole purpose of:
      • Assisting in the funding of neighborhood traffic calming devices, the exact location and type of devices to be determined by the Nora Representatives in consultation with the Driftwood Hills Neighborhood Association, Green Indy, LLC, and the City of Indianapolis.
      • Signalized crosswalk at Haverstick Rd and 86th St.
    • Reduces through-traffic into the neighborhood from the development by restricting the parking lot exit to a left-turn only (south) onto Haverstick Rd (no similar restrictions in the previous Alexander or Kite Project).
    • Discourages through traffic from the development by a neighborhood gateway sign.
  • Improves area traffic
    • Improves traffic exiting neighborhood by providing dedicated left turn lane and shared right/through lane for southbound Haverstick Rd.
    • Modifies existing traffic signal timing at 86th Street and Haverstick Road.
    • Engages the developer in discussions with the City of Indianapolis to coordinate signal timing with the intersections of 86th Street and the Keystone ramps and to relieve congestion associated with frequent bus service.

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The developer, Green Indy LLC, listened carefully, showed a willingness to compromise, and made important modifications based on these priorities.

We’d like to reaffirm our belief that Councilor Fanning and NCC have acted with the best interests of all Nora residents. The Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), by vote of their board, requested Councilor Fanning make this call-down. The Nora Alliance, Inc (NA) Board of Directors supported the call-down request. The NCC has 50 years experience with land use development cases in the Nora community. The are also a fount of knowledge regarding the unsuccessful legal battles fought by Nora neighbors in attempt to stop the 2005 D-P zoning of this site. NCC made a compelling argument for why a renegotiated Alexander Project makes sense as the best possible outcome given the existing D-P zoning and the logical likelihood that the site will be developed.

We have witnessed Councilor Fanning passionately representing the interests of her constituents in the Nora community and NCC as the lead neighborhood organization on land use issues.

Preliminary DP Plan

Statement of Commitments