Indianapolis Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership (INIP) Grant

From the City’s release: “Indy DPW will accept applications proposing public infrastructure improvements from non-profit, community-based organizations for the 2023 Indy Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership from December 1, 2022 through February 15, 2023. Awards will be made up to a preferred maximum of $500,000 per project, with a total of $2 million to award in this program from Mayor Hogsett’s 2023 budget. Projects conditionally selected to receive funding will be announced in spring 2023, after which time Indy DPW will work with the applicant to refine the scope of their proposed project, formalize a project agreement, and manage the construction of their proposed project.

Full details and grant application are here.”

What could this look like in Nora? 

Examples and Details

Another example

Safety at 86th and Monon. Grants awarded.

Earlier this fall, the Indiana State Department of Health released a request for proposals for a Tactical Urbanism Demonstration Project grant program. Nora Alliance, in conjunction with partners including Bicycle Garage, Inc. and Ball State Center for Civic Design, submitted a proposal for the 86th Street Monon Crossing corridor. This November, our proposal was awarded a grant by the Indiana Department of Health Community Planner. This was followed by a early 2023 grant from the Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA).

Sign a petition to advocate for a safer crossing at 86th and the Monon Trail.

Many thanks to the numerous organizations who voiced their support for our demonstration project proposal and the longer-term safety improvements at this important intersection. We are still soliciting support from any organizations that wish to show their support. The project will also require support from the Engineers at the Indianapolis Department of Public Works. Assuming we get DPW support, we will also need:

  • Design and execution assistance (Winter 2023, Spring 2024)
  • Assistance with petition signature gathering for more permanent changes, including a tunnel (Winter/Spring 2023)
  • Donation of project materials (orange barrels during installation, paint, planters, rollers, reflective tape, plants, temporary rumble strips, temporary bollards, etc.) The more we can get donated or purchase at cost, the farther the grant $’s will go. (March/April 2023)
  • Installation of project elements (April 2024)
  • Citizen-led traffic study to have data to compare to July 2022 study (July 2023), 
  • Assistance with maintenance of project (May-October 2023)
  • Assist with removal of project elements (October 2023)

Fatal accidents at this intersection have prompted renewed attention to the design of the street and path connections. Recent coverage:


Fox 59:

Would you like to be involved in the design and execution of a tactical urbanism demonstration project in Nora? Reach out to us or attend our next public meeting.

Nora Center Work Group Comments on Car Wash Proposal

At a meeting hosted by Nora Community Council and attended by Nora Alliance President, James Williams, representatives from Crew Car Wash presented a proposal for a car wash to be located in Nora at the current Steak’n Shake located at 86th & Westfield. 

We have completed our review of the preliminary proposal and conclude that a car wash at this location is ​inconsistent with the Nora 2021 Community Plan​ and is ​an excluded use in the Marion County Land Use Plan​ under the Village Mixed-Use typology with Town Center overlay. Put plainly, a car wash does not fit within the planning regimes for our community. The Nora Alliance, therefore, cannot welcome the proposed development in the Nora Center area.

The mission of Nora Alliance (a group of neighbors and businesses) is “to support and encourage a spirit of community cooperation in Nora Center to promote strong amenities, connected people, and a vibrant built environment.” A portion of the work we’ve done in collaboration with neighbors, business and city planners is to consider Nora in the context of the city’s comprehensive plan, and to overlay a plan generated by Nora Alliance and our neighbors, Nora 2021.

The plans mentioned here help guide our discussion of projects of significant community impact. With regard to the proposed car wash, we sent a letter, copied to neighborhood groups and city officials, to Crew to express our viewpoints on the proposal. It can be viewed here.

The Monon, in the heart of Nora.

Proposed transportation complex to replace soccer fields at 91st & College

Washington Township Schools is considering a plan to develop an Operations Service Center at the southwest corner of 91st Street and College Avenue. The land is currently the site of 10 soccer fields utilized by Dynamo FC.

The planned development would consolidate a number of district-wide functions into a single location. The complex would include facilities for parking, maintenance, and fueling of buses and other district vehicles, training facilities and offices for the district police department, offices for various other support functions, and storage warehouses for district property and equipment.

The project would be part of a $285 million capital referendum to be placed on the May 2020 ballot along with a $128 million operating referendum, if approved by the school board.  For more details, view the WTS presentation from the November 13 school board meeting.

The Washington Township School Board will hold a second hearing and vote on these referenda at the school board meeting on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at 6 PM at the H. Dean Evans Community and Education Center located at 8550 Woodfield Crossing Blvd.  As the proposed development has the potential to significantly alter the character of the surrounding area, the Nora Alliance encourages all interested residents to attend and participate in the school board meeting. It is our understanding there will be an opportunity for public comment.

Sidewalk between Ironworks developments and Keystone Crossing available for use

INDIANAPOLIS (July 16, 2018) – The highly-anticipated sidewalk that connects Ironworks Hotel Indy and Ironworks at Keystone to the Keystone Crossing area is now open for public use.

The sidewalk, which stretches 1,140 feet, begins at the Ironworks developments and runs along the south side of 86th Streetto the Fidelity Investments building located at 8480 Keystone Crossing. Pedestrian crossing signals make the sidewalk safe for passersby.

“The 86th and Keystone area is one of the busiest interchanges in the city,” said Jill Saligoe-Simmel, Nora Alliance board member. “It’s been mostly inaccessible to safe bike and pedestrian traffic. The Nora Alliance is pleased to have an involved community partner like Hendricks Commercial Properties and Ironworks to champion this project. We think it will be a valuable link for recreation, shopping and commuters. Our desire for Nora is for it to be friendly to people including those on bikes, on foot and in cars.”

Hendricks Commercial Properties, the Wisconsin-based developer of Ironworks Hotel Indy and Ironworks at Keystone, worked with the city to install the sidewalk and make the 86th Street region more walkable.

“Connecting the Ironworks developments to Keystone Crossing is a key point of linkage for the city,” said Isaac Bamgbose, vice president of development for Hendricks Commercial Properties. “While there is still room for improvement, we’re excited about this project as it’s the only safe passage space for pedestrians available beneath the Keystone Bridge on 86th Street. Whether for shopping, recreation, or dining, the entire Nora community will benefit greatly from this walkway installation.”

Hendricks Commercial Properties owns more than 9 million square feet of real estate in 30 statesacross the U.S., including 13 buildings in Indiana. Notably, Hendricks Commercial Properties is recognized for its award-winning luxury apartments, Ironworks at Keystone, and Indy’s only independent boutique hotel, Ironworks Hotel. Hendricks Commercial Properties is also spearheading the Bottleworks District project, a transformational $260 million mixed-use redevelopment project of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Massachusetts Avenue.

To learn more about Hendricks Commercial Properties, To learn more about Ironworks Hotel Indy, visit www.ironworkshotelindy.comor follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagramand LinkedIn. To learn more about Ironworks at Keystone, visit www.ironworksindy.comor follow on Twitter and Facebook.

About Ironworks Hotel Indy

Ironworks Hotel Indy is Indianapolis’ first and only north side boutique hotel. The five-story original brick industrial building inspired by 19th century architecture features 120 guest rooms in addition to retail space, and provides a comfortable, eclectic first-class experience for both local guests and travelers.

About Ironworks at Keystone

Ironworks at Keystone is a distinct 5-story mixed use development on the corner of Keystone Avenue and 86thStreet. Inspired by a time when we built things to last, Ironworks at Keystone features nearly 36,000 square feet of fine dining and shopping on the 1stfloor, 120 modern residential apartments for rent on the upper floors. Live, work and play in perfect balance at a place made with strength and stability.

About Hendricks Commercial Properties

For the past 43 years, Hendricks Commercial Properties, headquartered in Beloit, Wis., has been investing in commercial real estate throughout the country. Diane Hendricks, Chairman of the Board, started the company in 1974 with a core focus in multi-family and industrial real estate. Today, the company is a diversified real estate investment, development and management company comprised of more than 9 million square feet with over 800 tenants located in 30 states. The company and its ongoing strategy remains committed to continually growing a highly diversified Class A portfolio with its core asset focus being industrial, retail and urban mixed-use commercial real estate.

public art mural on train conductor phone booth Nora Indianapolis Indiana Nora Alliance Monon Trail

Mural on Conductor’s Phone Booth

The Conductor’s Phone Booth is a touch of railroad history tucked away on the Monon Trail in Nora. Back when the trains used to run (way before cell phones!) they used to stop here and call ahead to let the next station know they were on their way. The trains are gone, but this well-built concrete phone booth remains. It was manufactured by Permacrete – the company that made many of the telephone booths for railroads.

Today, thanks to many volunteer hours, the phone booth sports a nature-inspired mural. It’s the inaugural artwork this summer as the Nora Alliance Monon Trail Workgroup slowly develops Nora Corners Pocket Park for the community to enjoy.

Nora Corners Pocket Park: Phase I

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 (the approved “Kite Project”). The goal of renegotiating the development was to seek a better outcome for the Nora community on this important gateway parcel.

image_3 developments-b

At 3 pm 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 establish 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 the 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 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 the 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 the 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 (a 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 mitigations 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.

2018-04-05_Overall Plan Alexander at the Crossing-Ex Trees-med

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 in the best interests of all Nora residents. The Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), by a 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. They are also a fount of knowledge regarding the unsuccessful legal battles fought by Nora neighbors in an 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


Indy Moves! Nora, We Need Your Input!

Neighbors, here is our opportunity to let the City know what Nora’s priorities are for walking, bicycling, driving, and transit.


Indy Moves interactive map. Public ideas are in bright pink.

What is Indy Moves?

Indy Moves is a citywide effort to tie together Indianapolis’ many transportation plans and projects and establish an action plan that keeps us all moving for years to come. It will connect Indianapolis’ transportation goals, plans, and projects into an integrated mobility future. This includes the bicycle network, pedestrian network, trails and greenways, street expansion plans, and bus/bus rapid transit plans. Learn more here.

Your Input Is Needed!

Indy Moves is making the final push to get comments from the community on the Draft Capital Plan. An interactive map will let you comment on proposed projects, add new project ideas, and vote for your favorites. Share your thoughts on the project ideas that have been submitted and add your own. We want to know what projects matter most to you and which you think are most important for our future.

Here’s How You Can Help

  1. Log into the interactive map (you do not need an account to log in).
  2. Zoom to Nora (and your neighborhood) to view proposed project ideas (shown in bright pink).
  3. The Nora Alliance has added project ideas gathered from the Nora  Pedestrian Planning Meeting last Fall. Click on a project to view and “Like” the projects you deem important.
  4. Add new projects and comments that you think are needed.

Be sure to submit your comments before the online map closes March 20th

Seeking a Better Outcome at 86th & Haverstick

The northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd is approved for commercial development. The question is, what form will the development take?


UPDATE 4/6 Negotiations have concluded and an agreement has been reached. Read the summary here.

UPDATE March 13- April 4 – Negotiation period.
UPDATE March 13 – With passage of the call-down, the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC) and Nora Alliance (NA) have initiated negotiations for modifications on the Alexander project. We have included all priorities that NCC/NA/DH identified together on March 4th in our negotiation points.
UPDATE March 12 – City-County Council passed the call-down request to reopen negotiations on the Alexander project.
UPDATE March 4 – Nora Northside Community Council (NCC), Nora Alliance (NA), and Driftwood Hill (DH) neighbor representatives meet and work together to establish a common list of priorities and negotiating points. Although DH opposes the call-down process, we continue to share the overarching goal of renegotiating the Alexander project for a better outcome for the Nora community. By creating a list of mutual priorities and negotiating points, we established, up front, the terms for a favorable outcome for the community. Among many other items, neighborhood traffic and ways to preserve more areas of tree canopy are identified issues.
  • 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 by 30%
  • 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 “Opticom” emergency signaling devices installed but not in use on 86th St that control the lights when emergency vehicles approach. As we understand from Kris the system was installed by the Fire Dept but is not operational due to DPW concerns over signal timing. 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 to see where changes can be made.)

The northeast corner of 86th St and Haverstick Rd is approved for commercial development. The question is, what form will the development take? The currently approved development will result in near-clear cutting of the ~13-acre property to build a big box retail store and townhomes, with a large parking lot fronting 86th St. A lower-impact development option was recently defeated. This alternative included a two-story building fronting 86th St with a mix of office and commercial use that would have saved a significant portion of trees and drainage areas. Now, the community may have a chance to revisit the question of which development is preferred.

This is a choice between two developments, two tree removal outcomes, and their ultimate impact on the community. One development project is approved, and the developer has repeatedly stated they are committed to building. At the March 12 Indianapolis City-County Council meeting, Councilor Colleen Fanning plans to call-down the zoning case at the direct request of the Nora-Northside Community Council (NCC), and with the support of the Nora Alliance.

The NCC and Nora Alliance seek to achieve a better outcome, giving the neighborhood and Nora community a lower-impact development. Because of the case’s complexity, we present the details of Haverstick’s zoning history below to help Nora residents to better understand the facts of the matter, why preserving the property as parkland is not an available option, what a “call-down” is, and why this case is being called-down for review.

Kite and Alexander Projects Side-by-Side

The property in question is made up of the heavily wooded parcels located on the northeast corner of Haverstick Rd and 86th St, one block west of Keystone Ave. The approved and still valid Kite project and proposed Alexander project (highlighted areas indicate Phase 1 & 2) are shown side-by-side for comparison.

Current Zoning Designation – The Kite Project

The property carries a D-P (“planned unit development district”) zoning designation granted in 2005 (zoning case 2005-ZON-034-DP12), which authorizes, among other things, a 66,000 square foot big-box store (e.g., grocery), a near-clear cutting of trees (27 to remain), 1.2-acre surface detention pond, expansive surface parking, and 31 townhomes. We refer to this as the “Kite project” for ease of discussion.

Kite site plan Haverstick

The essential fact of this case is that the Kite project is the legally approved development of the property. While members of the Nora community fought a protracted legal battle with the City of Indianapolis to revoke or modify this zoning in 2005, they were summarily unsuccessful. There is no remaining legal leverage with which to fight the current zoning designation. Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett and Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD) Director Emily Mack have independently confirmed that there is no legal recourse for Nora to prevent Green Indy, LLC from developing the Kite project.

The developer indicates he intends to build the Kite project. The process of filing paperwork to obtain permits for the Kite project has begun.

Proposed Case – The Alexander Project

In 2017, as an alternative to the Kite project, Green Indy proposed the “Alexander project” seeking to rezone the property from D-P to MU-3 (mixed-use 3) (zoning case 2016-ZON-020). The MU-3 designation provides for compact uses, urban design with buildings located relatively close to the street in a pedestrian-friendly manner, and de-emphasized on-site parking. The Alexander project divided the site into two phases. Site plans were submitted for Phase 1. It has a smaller building footprint relocated to the front of the property on 86th St, less intense use (home accessory store, restaurant, and office space), and has larger intended tree preservation areas on the north side of the parking area than the Kite project. Importantly, it removes the 1.3-acre surface detention pond and instead proposes a detention system under the parking area, thus preserving the wooded slopes on the northeast side of the property.


Alexander site plan w-phase2

Green Indy presented the Alexander project to the Nora Northside Community Council (NCC) Board of Directors for review and input. They also presented their plan to the Driftwood Hills neighborhood and the Nora Alliance. The NCC, in support of the Driftwood Hills neighborhood, opposed the proposal (the vote was 9-2 with two abstentions). DMD planning staff recommended the plan be denied. On October 4, 2017, the rezoning petition was subsequently denied by the MDC (2016-ZON-020; the vote was 5-3).

The Alexander project’s submitted development plan did not include details for Phase 2 for the north section of the property, though it did indicate that this section would remain subject to the development standards and plans of the existing (Kite project) D-P zoning (31 townhome units). A primary point of opposition was the lack of commitments for Phase 2 ensuring the vital residential component that would provide a much-needed buffer between the commercial development to the south and the single-family residential neighborhood to the north. The 2005 Indianapolis Comprehesive Plan identifies that this Critical Area is under development pressure from commercial expansion.

The “Call-Down”

With the denial of the Alexander project, Green Indy began preparing to develop the previously approved Kite project.

A clerical error by City planning staff, certifying the wrong portion/version of the Alexander Project now requires recertification, which will come before the full City-County Council on March 12. The need for recertification allows for the District Councilor, Colleen Fanning, to call-down the Alexander project in a final attempt to re-open negotiations between Green Indy and the Nora community. With its 66,000-sq ft big-box store, expansive frontage parking lot, and near clear-cutting of the site, the NCC and Nora Alliance view the Kite project as the least desirable development scenario. Therefore these organizations support the call-down as an opportunity for a better outcome.

The NCC and Nora Alliance Position

The NCC and Nora Alliance hope the Alexander project can be renegotiated in good faith to give the neighborhood and community a lower-impact development option while saving a significant portion of trees and drainage areas. Should efforts at re-negotiation with the developer be thwarted, the neighborhood will be powerless to prevent the Kite project.

Re-opening negotiations through the call-down process is an established legal process conducted by the City-County Council official legal counsel. The NCC and Nora Alliance believe this is the responsible course of action given this privately held parcel has in-place zoning and an unwavering expectation that development will occur on the site. The choice is between two potential developments. The developer’s intent to build is evident. The process of filing paperwork to obtain permits for the Kite project has begun.

Objectives of mediated negotiations through the call-down process include the following:

  • A firm, written commitment by the developer for the northern part (Phase 2) of the property for low- or medium-density residential development only (the 2005 Comprehensive Plan recommends residential development at 1.75-3.5 units per acre for these parcels)
  • Preserve as many of the area’s trees as possible, including large trees
  • Prioritize drainage through keeping natural and existing drainage mechanisms intact while adding underground stormwater storage
  • Minimize traffic impact and emphasize public safety through safe pedestrian crossings, improved infrastructure, stoplight timing, etc
  • Enhance or secure adjacent property values with the highest quality development possible
  • Potentially shrink the footprint of the structure, thus reducing the parking lot pavement

Alexander Project Tree Preservation Commitments

The Nora Community Survey (2015) ranks “neighborhood character, defined by mature trees” as one of Nora’s greatest assets (second only to the Monon Trail).

The Alexander project is held to the same tree preservation plan as the Kite project. Those commitments specify: “All non-invasive trees greater than ten caliper inches in diameter, which are healthy and disease free, as determined by an arborist shall be saved, or if removed shall be mitigated by the planting of trees at a ratio of one to one between the caliper inches of trees removed and the total caliper inches of trees replanted, either on site or in the immediate vicinity, to complement the greater community.”

With its smaller footprint and underground detention basin, the proposed Alexander project has the potential to preserve significantly more trees on-site than the Kite project.

An Unfortunate Decision – Why Didn’t the Comprehensive Plan Protect This Property?

The Indianapolis Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005, defines several “Critical Areas” in Washington Township, including specifically the property in question. The Comprehensive Plan intended to protect this corner from commercial development (it recommends residential). The full Comprehensive Plan recommendations for this property are available on the Nora Alliance website, Critical Area 2.

The Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC) evaluates new development proposals against several measures, only one of the measures is the Comprehensive Plan. In 2005, the MDC approved the Kite project. That approval ran counter to the Comprehensive Plan, DMD planning staff recommendations, and will of the neighborhood. It was then that, to the chagrin of our community, Nora lost the battle to protect the property in question. After the Kite Project approval, members of the Nora community fought a protracted legal battle with Indianapolis to revoke or modify this zoning. They were summarily unsuccessful. There is no remaining legal leverage with which to fight the current zoning designation.

Driftwood Hills Neighbors Position

Complicating this case is that some residents of Driftwood Hills, the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the parcel, are opposing the call-down process. Driftwood Hills residents were included in early discussion of the call-down process and, together with the NCC and Nora Alliance, Driftwood Hiils agreed to that course of action. The negotiation team was to be led by the NCC and Driftwood Hills. Subsequently, they have decided to oppose the call-down and step away from the call-down process negotiating table. This group of neighbors seeks to negotiate directly with Green Indy outside of the call-down process. They have retained outside counsel for such purposes (Russell Sipes).

Site History – A Suburban Successional Woodland

The ecological process by which an ecosystem changes and develops over time is known as succession. Aerial photos from 1937 to present day show the changes from open woodland, to suburban residential and special use, to early successional woodland.

The 1941 aerial photo shows the site as open woodland surrounded by agricultural use. This 1941 imagery depicts many individual trees, some of which reportedly remain as old large trees on the property. The eastern edges of the property are mostly clear of trees (development site outline Phase 1 & 2 is highlighted).


By 1956, the property and surrounding neighborhood were developed as suburban residential lots. By 1979, the central parcel was largely cleared and developed with a lodge and associated parking. The 2002 aerial photo shows the site at its most developed, with homes, pools, lodge, and parking lot, while the eastern edges become more naturalized with newer trees.


Between 2003 and 2008, the site changed ownership and structures were cleared for future development. From 2008 to present, the site has undergone early succession with volunteer vegetation moving into the area, creating a 13-acre wooded corner with a mix of young, dense trees (which may or may not include invasive species) mixed with older trees. It is reported to contain several large (300+-year-old) trees that survived through the property’s historical development.

As evidenced by the aerial photography, the currently wooded site has undergone various stages of suburban and special use development over the past 66+ years. While it is not a patch of untouched old-growth forest, the woods and large trees are of value and worth preserving to the greatest extent possible. Forests and greenspace add significant value to the Nora community. Unfortunately, however, preserving the site as parkland is not an available option.

What About “Save Haverstick Woods”?

Further complicating the call-down of the Alexander project, the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA), coined the name “Haverstick Woods” and launched a campaign to “Save Haverstick Woods.” The IFA has taken a stand of active opposition to development on the site, preferring preservation of the site as parkland. While the intentions of the IFA are admirable, they disregard the existing D-P zoning designation and the developer’s stated intent to develop the Kite project in lieu of the Alexander project.

Ignoring the reality of the existing approved commercial zoning is perilous to our community. The Kite project is widely regarded as the worst case scenario for saving the trees. Instead of supporting a renegotiation of the Alexander project through the call-down process, the IFA prefers to preserve this urban forest to “absorbing flood runoff, and buffering noise and heat, a woods where people can walk their dogs and let the kids play.” This is simply not an option given the facts of the case as we know them.

Ironically, in this case, the IFA advocating “Save Haverstick Woods” would almost assuredly guarantee its destruction if successful in preventing the call-down. “IFA’s lobbying the Council to defeat the Alexander project could very well be instrumental in that devastation,” says Ruth Hayes, president of the NCC, “NCC supports modifications of and approval by the Council to the Alexander project in order to save as many trees and as much of the environment as possible. It is shocking that, perhaps without understanding the zoning issues, IFA has stepped in to derail the only hope we have to save at least some of the woods. It’s difficult to understand why IFA would want that to be their legacy in our community.”

Seeking a Better Outcome

The NCC has requested the Alexander project be called-down for hearing before the City-County Council, with the expectation that the developer agrees to negotiate modifications of the original Alexander petition and development plans. Councilor Colleen Fanning is doing her job representing the interests of the neighborhood association on record. The Nora Alliance supports the request to reopen proceedings of the Alexander project. Together, we seek to achieve a better outcome to give the neighborhood and Nora community a lower-impact development option while saving a significant portion of trees and drainage areas.

The Nora Alliance welcomes comments to this article to correct points of fact and questions that seek further clarification. Contact us.

Update added 3/23/18 to note status of call-down negotiations.
Corrected to reflect the negotiation process is not a mediation.