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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Residents, employees and customers in the Fountain Square neighborhood said they were stumped by a utility company’s decision to remove a row of trees along Virginia Avenue.

“Why couldn’t they just trim the trees?” asked Tom Legeros, whose nephew lives in Fountain Square. “There’s no reason to cut them down to root scale, all the way down to the ground.”

Resident Lindsay Carl said she was “devastated” the leafy sidewalk trees had been reduced to stumps.

The decision to remove the trees on the east side of Virginia Avenue, between Grove and Woodlawn avenues, was made in coordination with city officials, according to a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Power & Light Company.

Six trees were removed to facilitate IPL’s replacement of power poles.

Trimming branches to create sufficient space for the job “wouldn’t have left much of the trees after the process was completed,” an IPL spokesperson told News 8.

Permits for the removal were issued by the city’s Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.

Utility line clearance requirements “would have meant removing more than 30% of each tree” if they had trimmed the trees, a department spokesperson said in a statement to News 8.

Three ash trees underneath the utility lines were in “declining condition,” the statement said.

Nevertheless, residents and passersby mourned the loss of flora, shade and character in the 900 and 1000 blocks of Virginia Avenue.

“I think it’s really a shame,” said Jay McGill, noting one stump appeared to be more than 30 years old. “It would take a long time to grow another tree like that in its place.”

A store employee in the 1000 block of Virginia Avenue said it felt noticeably hotter without the trees.

“It’s more like 100 degrees [instead of 90] on this side of the street,” said Jason McCoy, an employee at Tillberry’s Vaping Elixirs. “We should plant new trees.”

Virginia Avenue “is a site for future planting,” city officials confirmed.

“The decision on what will be planted to replace the removed trees is still being considered,” the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services said. “Preference for tree preservation is one of the first and most important considerations when we are discussing the sustainability and revitalization of communities across the city.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One person is dead and another is in critical condition following a fire at a  Fountain Square home early Tuesday morning.

Fire crews responded to the 1400 block of Pleasant Street around 1:15 a.m., according to an Indianapolis Fire Department media release.

The Indianapolis Fire Department later said 50-year-old Shirley Allen died as a result of her injuries.

A Allen and the 54-year-old man both had to be pulled out of the house. The man was revived with CPR before being rushed to Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital. The woman later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

Two dogs were also rescued and revived by medics. One, named Baby Girl, ran away from the scene.

The fire was under control by 1:35 a.m., but it leaves behind $30,000 in damage, IFD said. There were no working smoke alarms in the structure.

The home is split into upstairs and downstairs apartments. Officials say the fire began in a downstairs room occupied by the man and woman.

A man and woman living on the top floor escaped without injury.

It’s unclear what sparked the flames.

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department are searching for a man who got away after a chase and standoff in Fountain Square.

It all started just after 8 p.m. Saturday night after police responded to a report of a stolen moped.  When officers arrived on scene, they said the suspect took off.

The suspect led police on a short chase before he jumped off the moped.

The suspect then ran inside a home in in the 1900 block of Prospect Street near Randolph Street. SWAT surrounded the home for more than an hour.

Officers eventually went inside only to find the suspect was not there.

Police are currently still searching for the suspect.

The suspect’s identity is not being revealed at this time. Police said the suspect may also be wanted on warrants.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Developers say a new project coming soon to Fountain Square could be a game-changer.  The developer says it will serve as an anchor for the entire neighborhood.

“People are moving here to Fountain Square because it has access. It’s convenient; it has art; it has restaurants; it’s walkable; it has history; it has a future,” said Carter Jackson, the principal at Jackson Development, when asked why he chose Fountain Square.

The five-story mixed-use building will be built at the corner of Prospect and Spruce streets.

“This, I think, will bring about more substantial investment from the Fountain this direction on East Prospect, and it will also help bring it sooner,” Jackson explained.

While much of the neighborhood has redeveloped in recent years, the southeast part hasn’t. The project will have 94 apartments and will also be 8,500 square feet of commercial space.

“Right now we have a lot of folks that come down on a casual basis to enjoy the fine dining and bars and so forth and that’s just great, but we need more folks living down here,” said Paul Smith, the president of Southeast Neighborhood Development Inc.

Ten percent of the apartments will be affordable, and 23 new jobs will be created.

But the president of the Fountain Square Neighborhood Association says she’s getting mixed reviews.

“There’s kind of two groups of people in the neighborhood. There’s the people who are open to any new development and then the people who are more cautious, don’t like the gentrification of the area,” Desiree Calderella said.

But for Katie White, who lives directly behind the development site, she says she’s good with it.

“It’ll look a little nicer, it’s a little bit of an eyesore right now. [It will] bring the look of the neighborhood up a little bit more,” White said.

There are two businesses already on the property. They will have to move.

The co-owner of Lulo’s Tire Shop is also looking forward to it.

“If you can improve a place, it’s always better. If you can bring more money to Indianapolis, that’s always better,” Eduardo Acevedo said.

Jackson Development still needs to have the property rezoned. And the project needs City-County Council approval.

Final approval could take months.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From commercial to residential, Fountain Square is becoming one of the fastest growing areas of Indianapolis.

A city block on Prospect Street, between Laurel Street and Spruce Street, is up for sale.

The man who owns Santorini Greek Kitchen also owns seven other parcels of land on that block.

He’s decided to sell all but the restaurant.

He’s hoping to encourage the wave of new business development in the neighborhood.

Taki Sawi wants to help the east side of Fountain Square live up to its potential.

“Our vision is to get people to Fountain Square. Our vision to get people around this area,” he said.

He owns Santorini Greek Kitchen and the rest of the block on Prospect Street.

He bought it more than a decade ago to build a banquet hall, but he bought another building downtown instead.

“So now there is no need for the seven parcels,” he said.

He’s keeping his restaurant at the corner of the block, and he hopes new businesses will fill in the rest of the area.

“I think this will be great for the area. It’ll be good for Indianapolis, it’ll be good for Fountain Square,” he said.

And it looks like there will be people to patronize those businesses.

Fountain Square is on a commercial and residential growth spree.

“I’ve been in the neighborhood since 1989 and I really have seen a dramatic change in what’s happened as far as housing,” Associate Broker with Carpenter Realtors Mary Jo Showley said.

Showley said, in the last five years, millennials especially have been drawn to the area by amenities like the cultural trail.

“Some of them don’t have cars; they use their bikes completely,” she said.

As a result, home values have been skyrocketing.

According to MIBOR Realtor Association, the average list price went from $60,000 in 2012 to $133,000 in 2014.

“They have more than doubled since 2012. The average sale price, the average asking price, it’s really astounding,” she said.

And she believes with new business development like the potential on Prospect Street, those millennials will be sticking around for the long run.

“Young people are looking to stay for a good number of years, until they grow out of the house at least, because they enjoy the community that surrounds it,” she said.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The BlueIndy car business is growing across the metro area with the next set of charging stations in Fountain Square.

The car-sharing company lets anyone rent their all-electric vehicles.

But the charging stations along Virginia Avenue north of Woodlawn Avenue take up permanent space. Some people are worried the electric rideshare cars won’t be worth the investment of these valuable parking spots.

Construction cones now take the place of parked cars in front of American Hardware in Fountain Square.

Owner Lawrence Kaseff is worried about already limited parking for customers.

“You have roughly not even 10 parking spaces for all these businesses. You’ve taken out a lot of businesses,” said Kaseff.

There will be five spaces for the cars along Virginia Avenue north of the fountain.

“The site will be finished and we’ll test it and the cars will start arriving in mid-to-late August,” said Scott Prince, general manager of BlueIndy.

Prince says extensive planning went into choosing this location.

“IndyGo has been a phenomenal partner, so they’ve done a lot with us to help us understand urban planning and the routes to make sure we’re putting these stations in the optimal locations for where people live and where they go during their average day,” said Prince.

But Kaseff is worried customers won’t use the car rental and will just take their business elsewhere.

“It’s a good concept but to take valuable, prime parking spaces away from patrons that want to be close to that business – they don’t want to walk five miles to get there,” said Kaseff.

Prince is hopeful that the idea will catch on in Fountain Square and ultimately be a boon for shops like American Hardware.

“A way to increase the churn of parking, which should bring more customers to their establishments,” said Prince.

Some businesses WISH-TV spoke with Monday that are just a bit from this block are hopeful those BlueIndy cars will bring in more customers and raise turnover.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Court documents allege that a fatal chase all began when a man attempted to steal women’s pants from Wal-Mart.

21-year-old Matthew Edmonds faces multiple felony charges related to the case.

He is accused of leading officers on a chase and crashing into a vehicle driven by 63-year-old Donna Niblock, resulting in her death.

Court documents state that the whole ordeal began Monday morning after Edmonds was seen placing women’s pants into Wal-Mart bags that he pulled out of his pockets, then trying to leave the store.

Beech Grove officers began pursuing Edmonds but the chase was called off due to a school bus in the area.

Officers said Edmonds reached speeds between 80 and 90 miles per hour.

IMPD officers spotted Edmonds in the Fountain Square area, but did not chase him. Edmonds allegedly sped off and struck three vehicles.

One woman was checked at the scene. Edmonds had non life-threatening injuries. Niblock and Rogers were taken to Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition.

The child in the truck was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and is in extremely critical condition. Niblock was later pronounced dead at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital.

Court documents state that Edmonds’ call from the Arrestee Processing Center was monitored. Detectives state that Edmonds said “I zoom off, high speed chase, I get away, but I got lost because I ain’t from down here.”

In that call Edmonds is also alleged to have said “they had stopped the chase, then one of them seen me but they had stopped the chase because it had got too reckless” and “long story short, I got into a real bad accident.”

Edmonds faces the following charges:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Officers with both Indianapolis and Beech Grove police departments say a pursuit involving a shoplifting suspect was called off four minutes before the suspect was involved in a fatal crash that killed a 63-year old grandmother and seriously injured three others.

What’s unclear is whether the suspect, 21-year old Matthew Edmonds, knew he was no longer being pursued by police.

The crash occurred around 8:19 a.m. Monday at the intersection of State and Prospect streets in the Fountain Square neighborhood. The pursuit began at 8:11 a.m. – six miles away at a Walmart on South Emerson Avenue.

IMPD Lt. Richard Riddle says Beech Grove police were responding to the store after loss prevention managers reported a shoplifter. A minute after arriving on scene, Beech Grove police began chasing Edmonds, Riddle said.

Three minutes later – at 8:14 a.m. – Beech Grove police cancelled the chase near the intersection of Raymond and Perkins Streets after noticing that Edmonds was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of Raymond Street. A minute after that at 8:15 a.m., IMPD supervisors notified its officers to cancel its pursuit, Riddle said.

Officers believed that continuing the chase would have been too dangerous given that officers also spotted a school bus loaded with children near Raymond Street and Perkins Avenue.

“The pursuit was terminated at the intersection of Raymond and Perkins for safety reasons,” Riddle said.

Three minutes after the pursuit was called off, an IMPD officer noticed the suspect vehicle driving north on State Street.

A minute later, the fatal accident occurred.

“We believe that our suspect – then noticing the marked police vehicle – sped up in an attempt to get away, thinking that our officer was going to re-engage in a pursuit with him,” said Riddle.

Lt. Riddle said Edmonds continued to flee and never stopped as officers attempted to pull him over.

“Everything that we take into account and factor in to continuing a pursuit or terminating a pursuit is all based on sensory perception, traffic conditions, weather and any other factor that we know in real time,” said Riddle.

In this situation, Riddle said the presence of the school bus and Edmonds’ erratic driving were reason enough to cancel the pursuit.

IMPD policy states that officer or supervisors engaging or monitoring a pursuit must consider the following:

  1. Seriousness of the offense;
  2. Knowledge of the identity of the pursued suspect(s);
  3. Other occupants of vehicle (i.e. children);
  4. Weather and lighting conditions;
  5. Road conditions (intersections, traffic controls, overhead lighting, curves, hills, repair,width of road, etc.)
  6. Density of vehicular and pedestrian traffic;
  7. Locality of pursuit (residential, highway, etc.);
  8. Familiarity with area; and
  9. Nature of pursuit (i.e., manner of operation of suspect vehicle, speeding, erratic or reckless driving, etc.)
  10. Vehicle’s speed

“There’s just a lot of things that officers need to immediately digest and immediately take into account during pursuit conditions,” said Lt. Riddle.

When asked if there any other factors that might have aided in Monday’s pursuit, Riddle said that the department’s helicopter was unavailable because a lack of on-duty personnel at the time.

“It may have made a slight difference only that they could have followed the suspect vehicle. After the pursuit was terminated, there was a time when the suspect vehicle was unknown,” Riddle said.

Beech Grove police declined to release its pursuit policy, citing the ongoing investigation. But department spokesman Capt. Bob Mercuri described it as similar to IMPD’s in that it helps officer “weighs the risk versus the rewards” of continuing or terminating a pursuit involving a suspect.

Mercuri said court records detailing the incident might be available early this week.

Larry Pryor, a machine shop manager whose office faces Raymond Street, said he saw Edmonds fleeing and being chased by three or four officers from both IMPD and Beech Grove.

“They were going 70 or 80. They were flying,” he said.

Pryor added that he was surprised the pursuit stopped near McFarland Middle School.

“I thought maybe they had caught him,” he said. “Then I heard about the crash up the street.”

IMPD also released this timeline of Monday’s events:8:07 a.m.-Initial call into dispatch on a theft-in-progress run at Walmart 4650 South Emerson Avenue8:10 a.m.-Beech  Grove Police Department dispatched and arrived at the Walmart8:11 a.m.-Beech Grove Police Department initiates pursuit of suspect vehicle8:14 a.m.-Beech Grove Police Department terminates pursuit8:15 a.m.-IMPD supervisor terminates pursuit8:18 a.m.-IMPD officer observes suspect vehicle near East Pleasant Run Avenue and South State Avenue8:19 a.m.-Fatal accident occurs at East Prospect Street and South State Avenue/Suspect flees from vehicle.8:21 a.m.-Suspect apprehended without incident

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) — Owners of a new business trying to move into Fountain Square are getting some resistance from the neighborhood.

The new shop will be a restaurant run in part by the owners of Taps and Dolls bar in downtown Indy in a currently vacant building along Virginia Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue.

Before it was a antique shop, now the owners of Taps and Dolls want to turn it into a restaurant called  “Fountain Taps.” But the new owners need to obtain a liquor license, which usually requires additional parking be built.

The company is relying on free public parking and requesting an exemption from the city. That doesn’t sit well with nearby business owner Linton Calvert.

“I think what I’d rather see is them to find parking, and if they would choose to be here, they would then need to have parking,” Calvert said.

Parking is scarce in the heart of Fountain Square and traffic often spills into the neighborhoods.

Councilman Jeff Miller represents the district and said residents are very concerned.

“I don’t want to say there aren’t people that are for it, but I haven’t heard from those,” Jeff Miller, District 19 city councillor said. “Though I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people that are against it.”

He says the businesses are split. Some want the vacant building to be filled, regardless if parking comes with it.

“There’s no doubt that getting a business in an empty business is important,” Miller said, “Right now it’s boarded up, it’s got paper in the windows, so I’m sure there are businesses that say ‘hey, I’d rather that be there than nothing.'”

Aside from parking, another issue is confusion over the type of establishment this will become. Many people such as Calvert believe this will become a bar, bringing a late night crowd.

“We are very concerned about not being a nightlife atmosphere as Broad Ripple has become,” Calvert said.

The representative for the new ownership hopes to reassure neighbors and other business owners that it will be a traditional restaurant/pub-type business, with standard hours and will not be open late.

The next step is getting that liquor license. The new business went in front of the Marion County Alcohol and Tobacco Commission Monday morning and asked for a continuance.

They told 24-Hour News 8 that a continuance was requested because a member of their staff couldn’t be there.

The next hearing will be June 15 at the City County Building.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis neighborhood, Fountain Square will be getting some national attention.

The reality TV show about an Indianapolis mother and daughter duo, Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak, that renovates homes in Fountain Square has been picked up for a full season on HGTV.

The duo was introduced a few weeks ago on Daybreak before the pilot aired.

The show is called “Two Chicks and a Hammer.” They also run a business with the same name.

The two said “this is not our business, this is our home, our life, our city. This is a story told by us.”

The season will feature 10 episodes each featuring a new home redo within a 15 mile radius of downtown Indianapolis.