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New BRVA Executive Director Optimistic About Future Projects & Initiatives

Writer / Jon Shoulders

Photographer / Amy Payne

The Broad Ripple Village Association (BRVA) has hit the ground running in 2018 with several endeavors that Colleen Fanning, executive director since April 1, and her fellow BRVA members feel will improve the area’s visual aesthetic as well as its commercial and cultural diversity.

“We’re excited about the direction Broad Ripple is heading,” says Fanning, a 15-year Broad Ripple resident who has served on the Marion County City County Council representing District 2 since 2016. In assuming BRVA executive director duties, Fanning replaced Brooke Klejnot, a Fort Wayne native who served since 2012.

One of the BRVA’s 2018-2019 top priorities according to Fanning is the beautification of Broad Ripple Avenue between College Avenue and Monon Trail. Wider sidewalks, decorative lighting and street trees are planned, as well as new hardware and electrical components for concerts and special events.

“The beautification project is in the survey and engineering phase right now, and it will probably be next year when it starts,” says Fanning, adding that the Department of Public Works (DPW) plans to dig up the street from College to the Monon Trail and alleviate drainage issues prior to the planned improvements.

BRVA president Joshua John says a projected cost for the beautification project has not yet been set, and the group’s goal with the project is to enable the Avenue to accommodate pedestrian-friendly events such as farmers markets and street festivals.

“We want Broad Ripple Avenue to remain a thoroughfare, but have the option to close off traffic and activate that space similar to Georgia Street downtown,” he says, adding that wider sidewalks will necessitate removal of some street parking.

The BRVA is in full fundraising mode after securing approval for a DPW matching grant for the organization’s Riverwalk Promenade project, which will connect Broad Ripple Park to the Monon Trail and Broad Ripple Avenue. The grant approval guarantees $750,000 at minimum and a maximum of $1,500,000 for the project, and the BRVA is hopeful construction will start next spring.

“Whatever the final infrastructure costs are that we are approved for, we have to come up with matching funds or matching dollar donations,” says John, a BRVA member since 2014 and an investment advisor and senior loan officer with LJI Wealth Management. “We’re kicking off a fundraising campaign soon to raise the funds, which we must have by the end of November. We’ve already raised close to $40,000.”

Bike lanes along Broad Ripple Avenue between Winthrop Avenue and Broad Ripple Park will be removed to accommodate the Promenade, which will be constructed along the north side of the Avenue. John says the BRVA board expects the Riverwalk Promenade’s physical appearance to reflect Indy’s Cultural Trail, with overlooks near the park’s entrance and near Weaver’s Lawn & Garden Shop.

“Broad Ripple Park is going through a master planning process as well, and, ultimately, the design of the Promenade will meet up with those existing plans and continue throughout the 67 acres of the park,” adds John, a Broad Ripple area resident since 2001.

The BRVA also continues to work alongside local landlords to seek out a diverse range of businesses for the area, and John says the owners of the commercial building at 743 Broad Ripple Avenue, formerly tenanted by Hardwicke’s Pipe & Tobacco and occupied by Kimmel Shoe Repair recently, contracted with a commercial realtor to sell the property.

“The owners will begin looking for suitable tenants to redevelop that property, which has been an eyesore for several years, and we’re looking forward to that property being revitalized,” John says.

Fanning adds that the BRVA is currently working with IndyGo to ensure a smooth midtown implementation of the city’s planned Red Line bus transportation service.

“We’re sensitive to the traffic changes that the Red Line stations at Broad Ripple Avenue and Kessler will provide,” she says. “We feel the Red Line will improve connectivity and accessibility of the cultural districts and make Broad Ripple an even better attraction. I think it will help increase our diversity, in terms of not only being known as a nightlife destination but as a family-friendly cultural district.”

Fanning says she chose to pursue the executive director role as a complement to her City County Council duties.

“I’ve always been invested in this community, and I’ve been a small business owner here as well,” she says. “When the opportunity came up it made sense to throw my hat in the ring and be the new executive director here because there was so much overlap between the two roles in advocating for the district and the neighborhood.”

For more info on the Broad Ripple Village Association including project details, updates on public meetings and more, visit brva.org.

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