Second new event venue gets OK

Johnson County residents will soon have two more locations where they can have outdoor weddings, receptions, banquets and corporate parties.

The Greenwood City Council approved rezoning about eight acres from residential to commercial, allowing the property owner to build an event venue near Stones Crossing Road and State Road 135.

That approval comes just two weeks after Mallow Run Winery announced plans for a 6,200-square-foot event venue, The Sycamore at Mallow Run.

Amanda Cottingham and her family own about 31 acres in the Center Grove area and plan to have Bay Horse Inn Stables, an indoor-outdoor event venue, built by August. The venue will host weddings, corporate or private events and banquets next to a log cabin already on the property, which could serve as a wedding-night suite for the bride and groom.

Construction of Bay Horse Inn Stables is expected to be complete just one month after The Sycamore at Mallow Run will be built. The Sycamore is being constructed a quarter-mile west of the winery off Whiteland Road, east of State Road 37.

The two new event venues coming to Johnson County are a sign of increasing demand on the southside for places to host outdoor weddings, Cottingham said.

Earlier this month, the plan commission voted against the rezoning of Cottingham’s property, passing along an unfavorable recommendation to the city council. But on Monday, the city council approved the rezoning 8-1, allowing the event venue to be built. Council member Bruce Armstrong voted against rezoning the land and said he was concerned about noise and worried that residents thought the plans were defeated at the plan commission meeting, Armstrong said.

One of the main reasons the rezoning was given an unfavorable recommendation by the planning commission was due to concern from neighbors of the property. Concerned residents from the Cobblestone subdivision spoke against the rezoning and plans to build Bay Horse Inn Stables, citing events late in the evening creating noise and possible trespassing into their neighborhood.

Council member Linda Gibson, who also serves on the plan commission, said the outdoor-indoor, rustic theme of Cottingham’s venue is something the city lacks.

“One thing we are lacking is this type of venue for outdoor weddings. And where else would be a better spot for this?” she said.

The 6,600-square-foot facility will be on the north side of Stones Crossing Road, between Honey Creek Road and State Road 135. The Cottingham family has two homes, horse stables and barns on the land.

After Cottingham received the unfavorable recommendation, she spent the next 2½ weeks inviting city council members, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers and other officials to her property, showing them where the venue will go and how both noise and the guests at events would be confined by surroundings.

“Bay Horse Inn Stables is the type of venue we have been waiting for for a long time because we’ve been talking about the need for one like this and the lack of venues like it in the city,” Myers said. “I’ve been out there. I’ve gone through the property. What she’s looking at doing, she’s going to knock this out of the park.”

The design includes a retention pond and a large tree line that will serve as a buffer between the venue and the subdivision. Cottingham and Crossroads Engineers hired an expert sound technician to review how far sound would travel from the venue and learned it wouldn’t be an issue.

Trees won’t be cut down between the subdivision and the venue, which was an important part of the design, council member Brent Corey said.

The rezoning does have conditions. More than 160 uses are allowed with the commercial zoning Cottingham needs, and in order to have the property rezoned, she had to narrow that list to about a dozen. Officials wanted to make sure that, even in 30 years, if that property were sold, development that fits the area would go in. Some of the uses allowed by the city council include single-family homes, a community center, horse riding stables and restaurants.

Cottingham already has people inquiring about wedding dates and spots on the calendar for corporate events and has one wedding booked for October, she said.

At The Sycamore at Mallow Run Winery, weddings and events already are planned for September, marketing coordinator Sarah Shadday said. The Sycamore was a plan she and others at Mallow Run began talking about two years ago before starting research and investing money in architects and design consulting, Shadday said.

Mallow Run hosts weddings at the actual winery, but many requests had to be denied because of a lack of space and because Mallow Run couldn’t meet all the requirements for events, Shadday said. The Bargersville winery can serve only its own wine, but by creating a venue away from the winery, guests can have a full bar and catered food.

Outdoor wedding ceremonies are in high demand, especially on the southside, local event venue officials said.

The decision to offer outdoor wedding ceremonies at Valle Vista led to a big boom in business, Valle Vista President Chuck Kern said.

Couples also want to be able to have both their wedding ceremony and reception at the same location, which Valle Vista, The Columns in downtown Greenwood and Grafton Peek Ballroom all offer.

The Columns has about 75 to 100 weddings a year, event coordinator Rhea Annee said. She isn’t surprised that more event venues are coming to the southside, especially ones that offer outdoor weddings and indoor receptions.

“I think it’s cool that the southside has the winery and, now, more venues,” Kern said. “Those are all good, quality of life things I like to see. Competition is always something you’re concerned about; but I saw Mallow Run’s new location, and it just makes sense. It’s all very trendy. I’m sure I’ll go to a wedding there myself and enjoy it.”

Having a new facility, such as The Sycamore or Bay Horse Inn, is good, Grafton Peek event coordinator Jason West said. Grafton Peek caters at other venues as well, so new locations mean an opportunity for more business, he said.

“I think in that particular, Bargersville, Center Grove area, if you’re putting a venue out there, it needs to be unique,” West said. “Providing an outdoor wedding experience is important, and I think after the new venues the county will be in pretty good shape. This industry is a big pie, and there is certainly plenty for everyone to get involved.”

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.