Indianapolis Business Journal reported on November 29, 2018 that a new indoor trampoline park called Urban Air Adventure Park is moving into the unoccupied former Marsh grocery store located at 14450 Mundy Drive in Noblesville -- literally feet away from the Fishers-Noblesville border at 141st Street. The trampoline park features trampolines similar to Sky Zone (also in Fishers), dodge ball, rock climbing, obstacle and rope courses, and even an indoor coaster. In 2017 Fishers-based Ben & Ari’s, practically across US-37 from the new trampoline park, closed its doors, so this new trampoline park is a welcomed addition to family entertainment in this area.
Despite our enthusiasm for this new business and fun activity we must ask ourselves why Urban Air Adventure Park did not choose the smart, vibrant, and entrepreneurial City of Fishers for the new location? Afterall, Fishers has several empty former grocery stores including the former Fresh Market located a hop, skip, and a jump (see what we did there?) from tourist and shopping attractions Ikea and
Top Golf just on the outer rim of Nickel Plate District. It would see the former Fresh Market would be ideal location for another entertainment oriented attraction. So why Noblesville and why not Fishers?
Perhaps the answer rests in the overlay zone the City of Fishers discussed at the end of 2017 and Fishers City Council passed on December 20, 2017. What was this new rule and what is the effect? In simple terms, the City of Fishers passed a special overlay zoning ordinance that says any commercial building larger than 5000 square feet that previously housed a grocery store can ONLY be used as a grocery store in the future without direct approval from city government. In other words, if a trampoline park wanted to open a new location in Fishers, let’s say at the former Fresh Market located at 116th and Cumberland Road, in 2017 the trampoline park could have negotiated a lease with the building owner, obtain the necessary local and state permits, and build their business, but in 2018 the trampoline park must first obtain approval from city government to open their business in the former Fresh Market building and then negotiate their lease, obtain permits, etc.
Looking at this another way, if Urban Air Adventure Park wanted to construct a brand new building next door to the former Fresh Market at 116th and Cumberland, the trampoline park would NOT need special permission from the City of Fishers. They need only obtain the standard building permits. The overlay zone ordinance is local government regulation that directly gives the city oversight of private businesses.
We have not talked to Urban Air Adventure Park and do not know if the overlay zoning ordinance affected their decision to not build in Fishers, but we do know Kroger, in a direct response to the city’s passing of the overlay zone ordinance last year, chose not to build their new, massive “super” Kroger AFTER the 57,000 square foot Marsh building and attached strip mall was completely demolished. Now there is a gaping hole in the retail landscape on the Northeast corner of Allisonville and 116th where there could have been a brand new super Kroger and it is a direct result of government regulation.
Even if the overlay zone ordinance passed on December 20, 2017 by Fishers City Council had nothing to do with the Urban Air Adventure Park decision to location in Noblesville instead of Fishers, we believe the overlay zone is bad for economic development in Fishers. We believe it is wrong to change the rules on the property owners midstream and to have a different set of rules for various types of properties. We believe this unneeded regulation brings economic harm to Fishers and we call on Fishers City Council to remove the overlay zone ordinance so that private business and economic development can flourish in Fishers.
Mr Whisman is a longtime Fishers resident and Co-owner of Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy in Fishers.