This blog is written from a matter-of-fact perspective and discusses the closing of Weaver’s Nursery in conjunction with development along Broad Ripple Avenue. It also provides an update to a Weaver’s and riverwalk focused IBJ article we posted portions of four and a half years ago.
Since at least as far back as a 1994 Broad Ripple development planning charrette, folks have been talking publicly about linkages between the Monon Trail, the Central Canal, and the White River and about improvements to Broad Ripple Park. Fast forward to 2018 and those plans are starting to be realized. Monies are being raised, plans are being dusted off and refurbished, parcels are being purchased and redeveloped, and mentalities about multimodal transportation infrastructure are changing. The double edged sword here is that with new development comes the loss of old staples like Weaver’s Nursery.
Weaver’s got its start in 1961 when a husband and wife team set up a roadside–er, amusement park side–plant nursery stand on a little patch of grass bordering the Little America Amusement Park, behind what’s now Hedlund’s Hardware and Sparkling Image Car Wash. During that time, across the street Glendale Mall was getting its footing as one of the first major shopping centers outside of downtown, Keystone Avenue was being widened, real estate around the corner of Keystone and 62nd Street was rapidly improving (in the investment sense), and that little patch of grass was increasingly in demand. So after seeing an affordable opportunity to move closer to the core of Broad Ripple at their most recent 1316 Broad Ripple Avenue site, the Weavers did just that, exchanging developers, golfers, and pony riders for high schoolers, park goers, and Village vibes. Formerly the site of a produce stand, Weaver’s Nursery rented the spot at a rate unheard of today according to current owner Tom Weaver. Tom wasn’t yet in charge of the books as he was around the high school or military service point of his life and hadn’t taken over the management side of things from his parents. But he knows the rental rate “wasn’t very much, [he] can tell you that. Around $300-$500 a month.” (Good luck renting a closet in Broad Ripple at that rate today.) So the Weaver family rented that Broad Ripple Avenue property for 8-10 years before purchasing the real estate. Since that’s a fairly skinny parcel sandwiched between Broad Ripple Avenue and the White River, Weaver’s Nursery continued renting a neighboring parcel so the business had room for parking and shipment unloading. The neighboring parcels, once the site of a filling station, played host to all sorts of other businesses too, including a restaurant, party rental place, smoke shop, and dog grooming operation. None of those places needed the whole lot, so Weaver’s always had the green light to keep renting parking lot space. But as Broad Ripple has grown, so has the price of and demand for land. In contrast to the low rental and purchase rates of years past, it would have cost Tom $1.3 million to buy the neighboring parcel. As a business and as a family, the Weavers have tenacity (Tom’s mother worked the cash register until her death at age 92), but it likely comes as no surprise that a small nursery doesn’t have that kind of cash. So when Weaver’s was asked if they’d like to buy the land, they declined, the property was purchased by someone else, and the changes began. Now that neighboring building and parking lot are no more, and with an altered street entrance and far from enough parking, after 57 years Weaver’s too is no more.
While I could sense disappointment in Tom’s decision to close Weaver’s Nursery, I could also hear his understanding about the change development brings. In this case, the change is a big one for Tom and his sister Pam, both of whom have worked at their namesake nursery from start to finish and have seen their fair share of Broad Ripple development. I asked Tom about restarting elsewhere. “For years I’ve kept busy here, like with all our Christmas trees in the winter, so I’ll miss that, but it’d cost too much money and time to restart” he said. Tom would have liked to stay busy selling bunches of Christmas trees in the winter, flowers of countless varieties in the spring and summer, and pumpkins and stumpkins in the fall, but that’s not the way things shook out. Instead, he’ll work on his golf game awhile before likely getting involved in his now old line of work elsewhere in some capacity.
We wish the Weaver family and their nursery staff the best going forward as we welcome the new riverside developments, The Ripple and the White River riverwalk. The Ripple will provide apartment living on its upper floors and commercial space on its ground floor. Next to it will run the aforementioned White River riverwalk. The riverwalk will provide the long-hoped-for bicycle and pedestrian linkage between Broad Ripple Park and the Monon Trail, which itself is undergoing a change thanks to Tax Increment Finance (TIF) spending tied into the new River House mixed use development. These linkages and improvements will subsequently expand pedestrian and multimodal accessibility to the heart of Broad Ripple Village. The closing of Weaver’s Nursery is just the latest example of the numerous changes taking place in Broad Ripple. Directly across the street from the former Weaver’s site is the former Broad Ripple High School site who’s fate is yet to be decided, though some big ideas are being tossed around. Further east along Broad Ripple Avenue, back near where Weaver’s got its start, sits a former Marsh grocery store and a former commercial complex that most notably housed MCL bakery. Development is in the works for those sites, but nothing has been released publicly about the projects. In downtown Broad Ripple–if you will–there’s construction at multiple large sites along the Monon Trail. And further west along Broad Ripple Avenue there are a couple new taco bars, a new arcade bar, and the new home of the Broad Ripple Village Association (a rental space that’s size might prove the earlier closet comment). And to top it all off, proposed are plans for a block-wide mixed use development between College and Carrollton just south of The Vogue.
Point being, there’s a lot of change taking place in and around Broad Ripple, and that’s just one hub of the Midtown geography. Within all this change, within all this development and redevelopment there’s history; There are stories, memories, and people. It’s important to keep these perspectives in mind and related histories alive as we continually shape our Midtown landscape. For more on development elsewhere around Midtown, check out the blurbs in the November 26th – December 9th e-newsletter.