Updated July 16
On July 15, the Metropolitan Development voted 7-1 (with one recusal) to approve the requested variances necessary for a proposal by Crew Carwash to demolish the former CVS building at 111 West 38th Street and replace it with a drive-through car wash.
A hearing before the Metropolitan Development Commission’s Hearing Examiner was originally scheduled for May 28. An automatic continuance was filed and at the June 25 virtual hearing, the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA) received an additional continuance in order to have more time to work with Crew and the City of Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) to address traffic congestion concerns.
According to paperwork filed with the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development (DMD), the company has requested variances to allow car stacking spaces in the front yard of Illinois Street, 38th Street and Kenwood Avenue (which is not permitted along a street 30 feet in width or greater), 35 feet from a protected district (i.e. residential neighborhood), with an 80-foot front setback from 38th Street and with a 55-foot exit drive lane (100-foot separation requirement, maximum 65-foot front setback and 100-foot exit drive required).
Crew is also seeking a modification of commitments related to 98-Z-194 which were made to allow the CVS to build on the parcel in 1998. Those commitments required adherence to site plans, required submittal of a landscape plan for administrative approval and required building design, materials and trim and color scheme to be consistent with existing pharmacies. Petitioner is seeking to terminate all of those commitments to provide for the proposed carwash development with new commitments.
Crew Carwash is looking to spend upwards of $5 million to redevelop the former CVS site at the southwest corner of 38th and Illinois. As part of its community outreach, Crew’s director of real estate and development Justin Furr made a virtual presentation at the June 16 monthly meeting of the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association. “We want to be a good partner to the neighborhood,” he said.
Furr said that under the current C-4 zoning, a carwash is permitted on the site, however Crew needed variances in order for the company’s site plan to succeed.
Community comments focused on motor vehicle congestion. Participants expressed concerns about additional traffic through the residential neighborhood in the 3700 block of Kenwood.
During morning and evening rush hours, the 38th Street corridor is packed with vehicular traffic. Evening rush hour is particularly crowded on Illinois. Neighbors pointed out that access to the carwash from these busy thoroughfares would create problems. While Furr expressed a willingness to explore ways to limit traffic impacts on Kenwood and Illinois St., he stated that adding an entrance to the carwash along 38th Street was not an option.
Community members asked if a traffic study had been conducted. Furr said it had not been required. This became a sticking point for residents and led to the request for continuance on June 25. CHNA is seeking a meeting with DPW and Crew Carwash to discuss the matter.
In addition to the presentation at the virtual monthly meeting, members of the development team held a public open house on site June 18 to answer questions and solicit feedback.
DMD staff opposed the variances in its report [PDF] maintaining that the automobile-intensive project does not meet any of the requirements of the City’s Comprehensive Plan or Pattern Book, the Transit-Oriented Development overlay guidelines, or the Midtown TIF economic development area plan. Such plans call for more pedestrian accessible, transit-friendly developments, hence the need for several of the variances.