Broad Ripple construction project hurting businesses

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH-TV) — Businesses in Broad Ripple told I-Team 8 they’re losing a lot of money because of lingering road construction that was supposed to be finished a long time ago.

Steam and the smell of fresh asphalt filled the air in Broad Ripple as crews worked on the project Thursday.

Chelsey Wetzel, the owner of Union Jack Pub, told I-Team 8 the construction has been worse for their business than the pandemic.

“We’ve lost as much as 70% some of these months, which our worst COVID month only saw us down 25-30%. COVID couldn’t have dreamt to have done to us what this project has done,” said Wetzel.

Wetzel’s business and others in Broad Ripple were told by the city the main disruption to the area would last 135 days during the project.

“There was an expectation that it would go over 135 days, in terms of disruption, but not on any level to the degree that we’re at. 577 days,” said Wetzel.

Union Jack made substantial business decision based on the original quote of 135 days of disruption.

“We purchased a building across the street from our original location. We thought, ‘keep the longevity of Union Jack and invest in the village,’ and I think looking back, we would have made a very different decision and walked away probably rather than try and weather and lose our entire life savings, which is what’s happened. Well into six figures,” said Wetzel.

The Department of Public Works told I-Team 8 unanticipated problems slowed the project down drastically. Issues with underground utilities took a long time to fix before the above ground paving project could move forward. The project in Broad Ripple is not the only one to face setbacks because of utilities.

Wetzel is not happy with how the city communicated issues and slowdowns the project. I-Team 8 Reporter Kody Fisher asked Wetzel what the city can do to make it up to her business and others.

“In a dream world, I’d like to see compensation for what I’ve lost. Secondarily, I’d like to see better effort in Broad Ripple village by way of grants and support in terms of lighting, cleanups, and the crime issues, and some different things that we’ve dealt with, and just better support, ordinances, rules, and enforceable things that we can help grow and recover from this,” said Wetzel.

The City of Indianapolis said in a statement, “Throughout the Broad Ripple Improvements Project, Indy DPW has remained in close contact with local stakeholders like the BRVA, working to minimize disruption to residents and businesses to the extent possible. While construction means disruption, it also means progress – and the Broad Ripple neighborhood will soon benefit from $8 million of new pedestrian assets, beautification, and improved drainage systems that will reduce historic flooding. Indy DPW is only days away from completing the most disruptive elements of this project, and the City remains committed to working with BRVA and the neighborhood to improve quality of life for the Broad Ripple community.”

Even while approaching the light at the end of the tunnel, Wetzel isn’t sure if her business will make it.

“We’ll see what spring brings, and if we don’t recover pretty quickly from this, it’s dark, and I think it’s dark for a lot of people,” said Wetzel.

The city said, weather permitting, the finishing touches to this project should be completed by Saturday.