The Future Of Broad Ripple

As the White River neighborhood strives to reinvent itself after a decades-long bar binge, three visionaries in the area sketch out their concepts for its future.

A Boardwalk

Brian Payne’s wife Gail came up with the idea of a boardwalk running from the Monon Trail to Broad Ripple Park along the river, and the Central Indiana Community Foundation CEO has been championing it ever since. The city got as far as designing the curved path on piers in 2015, but the money disappeared when Mayor Greg Ballard left office. Now Brian is trying to fold the concept into a larger $100 million Connecting Indy plan he and Gail have for building bike paths and other conjoining infrastructure throughout the city. “We’ll need one or two huge donors,” Brian says. “You don’t get there $1,000 at a time.”
How much: $3 million (of the larger Connecting Indy plan).
The biggest challenge: Besides raising $100 million? Getting neighborhoods city-wide to buy into it.
Timeline: If things go well, fundraising could begin in 2018 with construction by 2022.

A Music Festival
Dan Ripley founded Broad Ripple Park’s WARMfest in 2013. And while the music died after just two years, the idea evolved into the ROC and ROW Festival there. Right now, it’s a small concert lineup. But Ripley hasn’t given up on building something larger like Louisville’s three-day Forecastle Festival on the Ohio River. He envisions water skiing shows, fireworks, and flotillas, with acts like Michael Franti and Big Head Todd and the Monsters playing in the park.
How much: $1 million per festival.
The biggest challenge: Infrastructure. According to Ripley, Broad Ripple Park needs an amphitheater and more shelters to realize its potential. “The people at IndyParks make or break things moving forward,” he says. “One thing I’ve continuously heard is that Broad Ripple Park doesn’t need any help. But it does.”
Timeline: Sadly, there are no immediate plans to make Ripley’s vision a reality. Although a big sponsor could change that.

A New Broad Ripple Avenue
Colleen Fanning decided to run for city council last year with the goal of revitalizing Broad Ripple Avenue. Not only has the traffic-choked thoroughfare of bars been bad for the area’s brand, it also hasn’t seen any major infrastructure improvements in a generation. Fanning advocates a Georgia Street-like boulevard with wider sidewalks and decorative lighting, allowing concerts and farmer’s markets to set up shop there. “Downtown, Mass Ave, Fountain Square—a lot of that was rebuilt on the back of Broad Ripple,” she says. “It’s a huge tax revenue generator, and we need to make investments in Midtown now. Otherwise we run the risk of Broad Ripple being the cow that everyone milks and no one feeds.”
How much: $4 million, much of which would come from the Midtown TIF district.
The biggest challenge: Construction will begin soon on the Red Line station at the intersection of College Avenue and Broad Ripple Avenue, and a massive drainage improvement project is overdue in the neighborhood. Coordinating those with tearing up the streets for this could be tough.
Timeline: Ideally, the financing will be lined up by the end of this year. Bidding could take place in 2018, with construction finishing up in 2020.

This article published in our September 2017 issue on the White River, on stands now.