Drury Hotel Update

Friday, May 02, 2008

I have just spoken with Drury Hotel executives and confirmed that they will file their revised site and building elevation plans that resulted from meeting with PTRA and TPAN representatives in April. The Drury Hotel will have a dramatic impact on our neighborhoods and it would be very easy for each of us to cross our arms and refuse to negotiate. I am pleased that you and your neighbors have recognized the opportunity to make lemonade out of a lemon. The current legal use of a residence style hotel on the site adjacent to Chestnut Hills means different things to different people. In a worst case for you and your neighbors, the currently allowable use could invite an extended stay facility that caters to transient people who live from week to week and cannot afford homes or apartments. We already have one of these near us with the residence inn located south of Traders Point Shopping center on West 86th St. (Hometowner). No one imagined years ago when that use was agreed to that a hotel could morph into such a despicable facility. The rest of the property could be developed for C-3 retail (whatever that means with all the vageries of retail). We have narrowed the C-3 to a small corner lot between Bob Evans and Marsh Road. This will most likely be a site down restaurant. We have asked that it not be a quick service restaurant because of their trash and traffic.

The Drury developer, engineer and architect in attendance last night reinforce the notion that Drury Hotels is a top flight organization. Our assurance that they will be the exclusive owner/operator and that the approvals and improvements will not be transferable is an important victory. As we have learned, many hotels are sold and immediately change ownership and personnel shortly after completion. We are assurred with Drury that they will be a neighbor, familiar with our concerns, long after the project is completed. You should all be very pleased with how the process is working.

We will still need to stay vigilant to insure that the berm landscaping becomes natural and mature as quickly as possible. Having them agree to long term maintenance, replacement and irrigation is a big victory in that regard. One of the advantages of allowing Drury such a large scale project (5 stories) is that they will have a much larger budget to address items such as landscaping, sidewalks, etc. Let’s make sure they do not skimp on this aspect of the project. And remember that we will get a second bite at the apple when the office project comes before us for approval. That project promises to be a professional office park that will serve as a quiet buffer between Chestnut Hills and the Drury Hotel. It will be a two story office building or office park. We will have an opportunity to address increasing/enhancing landscaping when the office development comes through for site plan approvals. Rarely does a residential neighborhood abutting retail zoned land have the opportunity to down-zone the portion closest to their homes, increase the zoning and development restrictions furthest from their homes, and create a comprehensive landscape plan with a zoning and development document that codifies the obligation the petitioner (Drury) has to the neighbors going forward.

This use also sits at the entrance to the Traders Point triangle so it sets an important precedent for the high standard of development that we can demand on undeveloped property going forward. Is it perfect? No. But we could very easily let perfect as our goal give us a currently legal yet objectional use on the site. Being proactive was the right thing to do. Many of our neighbors participated in the consensus process and I hope they will step up and answer their neighbor’s question of why we agreed that a five story Drury Hotel was superior to some of the potential alternatives.

Finally, I want to remind and reassure neighbors that in marketing residential real estate, the most important factors affecting the perceived value of homes individually and collectively are maintenance, pride and curb appeal If the neighbors or a neighbor perceive that this project has the potential to raise their property values, it will. If they believe it will lower their property values, it will. The amenities of the immediate area and the Traders Point area overall are strong and getting stronger. As the price of fuel increases, more people are considering the amenities of a live-work environment. Your neighborhood is within walking distance to the largest business park in the state (Intech). It is in close proximity to one of the nation’s largest municipal parks and just minutes from the airport and downtown. All of the reasons we originally chose this area are still in place. In many respects Drury is a neighbor we can welcome. They will not impact our schools or place large volumes of traffic on our roads. And the neighboring land use certainly could have been a lot worse given the current allowable uses.

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About Ross Reller

I am pleased you have expressed interest in learning more about the historic Traders Point area in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1980 to 1982 I was employed in the PR department at Conner Prairie Museum in Hamilton County. There I learned about William Conner, an important figure in Indiana's pioneer days. A decade later I became interested in the history of the Traders Point area and was surprised to learn that William Conner had been the first land owner in the area. In 1823 he acquired, through the Federal land office in Brookville, a patent for an 80 acre tract carved by Eagle Creek and an Indian trail that was about to be named the first toll roadway through the township (Lafayette Road). Thirty years later a village took shape within this tract. A grain mill on the creek, houses, churches, stores, restaurants, and two gas stations would take shape here in the creek valley hamlet of Traders Point. By 1962 all improvements (except a farmer's co-op) had been removed by the Indianapolis Flood Control Board to make way for Interstate 65 and a new reservoir. This blog is dedicated to preserving evidence of this historic area but I will occasionally use it to discuss related topics. To activate this follow, simply click the confirm button below. If you don't want to follow, ignore this message and we'll never bother you again. I am also a member of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery, a non profit association still selling burial plots for those who would like to spend all eternity in Traders Point, and I am an officer in the Pike Township Historical Society and the Traders Point Association of Neighborhoods.
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