Former Atlanta Hawk Alan Henderson gets permission to build home


alan-hendersonFormer Indiana University and NBA basketball player Alan Henderson got approval to build a home on Indianapolis’ north side in spite of fierce opposition from neighbors.

A city zoning board voted 3-1 Tuesday to grant Henderson a variance for the 12,444-square-foot house on a 1.48-acre lot at 8080 N. Pennsylvania St.

The footprint of the home, which features a two-story tower in the center, exceeds a zoning requirement that 85 percent of the lot remain open space. The plan calls for the home to take up 21.4 percent of the lot.

Members of the Nora Northside Community Council, which unanimously voted 10-0 to oppose the variance, argued that the variance would be unnecessary if Henderson would build vertically instead of horizontally.

Dr. Steven Harris, whose home sits immediately south of the lot, said the width of Henderson’s house in the front will exceed his by 21 feet.

“Why, this would stick out like a sore thumb,” Harris said. “The majority of the block [is] full of two-story homes. He can do it; he chooses not to do it.”

But Henderson’s lawyer, Joe Calderon, countered that the deviation from the requirement his client is seeking is “relatively” minor, and Metropolitan Development Commission staff favor the variance.

“We have an individual who wants to make a substantial investment in a beautiful home in an iconic neighborhood in Indianapolis,” Calderon said.

MDC, staff, however, requested that Henderson submit a tree-preservation plan because the site “has a host of mature trees that should be preserved wherever possible.”

Nearly 30 residents of the tony Williams Creek neighborhood submitted letters to the city opposing Henderson’s plans.

Henderson, 40, led Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School to the state basketball championship game in 1991 before playing four years at IU, where he finished among the top scorers, rebounders and shot-blockers in Hoosiers history.

In 1995 he was selected with the 16th pick in the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, and has since played for the Hawks, the Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Philadelphia 76ers – a total of 12 years.

In his rookie year (1995-96) with the Hawks, he ranked 2nd on the team in total blocked shots (52). During the 1997-98 season, he was the recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award.

He remained a member of an Atlanta team that for nine of his tenured seasons did not improve significantly nor get very far in the postseason when they qualified for the Playoffs.

In total, Henderson played in 652 NBA games (220 started), averaging 7.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg in 21.1 minutes of playing time. He had his best season with the Hawks in 97-98, when he averaged 14.3 ppg in 69 games for the team.

Stephen Mears, attorney for the remonstrators, said his clients would welcome Henderson to the neighborhood but conceded that their opposition to his home is “probably not the greatest way to start off a relationship with a neighbor.”

Zoning board members Jennifer Van Keppel, Darrell Morton and Melissa Coxey voted in favor of the variance. Jennifer Keefe cast the lone “no” vote.

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