A Snapshot of City Projects Going Into 2022
As we put an end cap on 2021, a productive year for the city of Carmel amid a pandemic, I spoke with Mayor Brainard and Carmel Redevelopment Commission Director Henry Mestetsky about a few of the city’s more prominent and influential redevelopment projects that are either wrapping up in 2022 or will be started at some point in the new year.
The State of the City
The mayor shared his thoughts on the importance of the city’s continued trajectory of redeveloping so that Carmel remains a formidable competitor on the national and global stages.
“It is important to recognize that we are still coming out of a global pandemic and supply chains have been impacted but the economy is especially good for Carmel,” Brainard said. “We’re under 2% unemployment.”
Currently, Carmel is home to approximately 130 corporate headquarters of national and international significance.
Brainard added, “Carmel invests so much in making it a beautiful city, and our strategy as a city continues unabated throughout the pandemic to make Carmel a place of safety, great public schools and libraries, and a great city with beautiful amenities that honors the arts, is clean and friendly and that welcomes everybody from whatever background they come from. We can’t compete if don’t do that, and not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also what America is all about. We have to be inclusive, and that is important to us.”
When asked what some of his administration’s greatest achievements have been that he is most proud of, the mayor replied, “We continue to make Carmel a competitive place around the globe. We continue to market the city as a great place to live around the globe and continue to innovate and look for better ways of doing things.”
Brainard continued, “Making the switch from a car suburb to walkable safe downtown and anything that contributes to that effort and people from all backgrounds coming together, celebrating events and holidays, music and the arts is all very gratifying.”
What Are the Tax Benefits to Redevelopment?
When asked why the city continues to improve its infrastructure and redevelop and innovate particularly within its urban core, Brainard said, “We’re putting cars underground in parking structures, which allows us to build so much more on the lot. We don’t want to build too high and won’t go over four, five, maybe six stories. Remember, property taxes are paid per square foot, so if we go up five levels, that’s five times [the revenue] if we build on 100% of that lot and not just 5–10% of the lot. That could be a 50–60% increase. We’re building a great tax base, and we’re doing it without incurring a great deal of expense except for the parking garages, and we’ve figured out how to pay for that. We’re able to go to the developers that are building those buildings to sign for those loans, so the taxpayers aren’t on the hook for those parking structures.”
Brainard added, “We’ve invested huge amounts of money into infrastructure and amenities in Carmel, and our tax rate is still one of the lowest in that state and in the country.”
Projects Underway or to Commence in 2022
A few of the more noteworthy projects beginning in 2022 are the expansion and renovation of the Carmel Police Department and new city court as well as the start of construction on the Carmel Clay Historical Foundation—acollaboration between the Carmel Redevelopment Commission (CRC) and the township.
“We’re beginning work on what I call the Monon Boulevard treatments in the urban part of the Monon, south of the City Center Drive tunnel,” Brainard stated. “We have the Mélange project over by the fire station, and we have Proscenium II coming online. That will be right across the street from Proscenium I, where the former Walgreen’s building is. We’re also working on the 1st On Main project on the northeast corner where the bank used to be.”
In conjunction with the city of Carmel, Onyx+East announced its $30 million project on the Monon Greenway next to Carmel City Center. Mélange is defined as a mixture or a medley—a reference to the vibrant neighborhood and the lifestyle of living Downtown Carmel and the array of home styles that will be offered here. Mélange by Onyx+East is a private residential community offering multistory brownstones and single-level condominiums. Located in the heart of Carmel, Mélange delivers a medley of unparalleled urban access.
Civic Square Parking Garage
The Carmel Redevelopment Commission and F.A. Wilhelm Construction Company, Inc. will be building the new 303-space Civic Square Parking Garage. Of those parking spaces, 255 will be public space for use by the adjacent businesses and the expanded police station and courthouse. And 48 of the spaces will be private for owner-occupied condos that will line the west and north sides of the garage and be developed as part of a future CRC project. The garage is going to be the most technologically advanced garage ever built by the CRC, complete with electric vehicle charging station rough-ins, a solar panel array on the roof and a car counter to gauge occupancy. The architecture will be traditional to match the surrounding area, and the facade is expected to feature several murals. Construction is expected to start in January 2022 and be complete in mid-2022.
1st On Main
The City of Carmel and Lauth Group announced in October of 2021 details of this public/private partnership to build a multimillion-dollar mixed-use development on the northeast corner of Range Line Road and Main Street in the Arts & Design District. 1st On Main, formerly known as Lot One, will include a four-story office building with first-floor restaurant space and a private rooftop terrace, eight luxury condominiums, 35 luxury apartment units, a 310-space parking garage with public access and a community-gathering plaza featuring the existing Rotary Clock. Construction is expected to be complete by mid-2023.
The Signature at Carmel
The Signature at Carmel will be a residential community offering thoughtfully designed studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartment homes and eight two-bedroom, for-sale condominiums. Also, part of The Signature development will include 16,100 square feet of ground floor retail space. The City of Carmel is also a partner in the project by allowing the developers to use Tax Incremental Financing bonds to build a 389-space public parking garage as part of the project.
The Signature at Carmel is located at the northeast corner of Main and Old Meridian streets, just north of Bru Burger Bar and Rize restaurant and just across the street from Rosie’s, Bar Louis, Verde and Sugar Creek Winery.
“This is an exciting project because it has both multifamily and for-sale condos as part of the project,” Mestetsky stated. “It will feature a vast parking garage that will be for public use that will be above-grade and wrapped by multifamily and for-sale units.”
Mestetsky continued, “This is an $80 million project, and one of my favorite things to always talk about is how these projects raise the assessed value per acre. So, this land used to be assessed at $330,000 an acre, and once it’s built, the assessed value of the land will jump to $9.5 million. If you remember the school referenda captures taxes off of all property, and all that is new money for the schools that they would never otherwise have if this land had just stayed what it was.”
Republic Airways Campus
If you’ve driven by the Republic Airways campus off of the U.S. 31 and 126th corridor recently, you’ve seen considerable progress has been made in the transformation of those parcels.
Mayor Brainard shared, “We’re working on phase three of that site. There’s one remaining corporate pad, and we’re looking at some of [Republic Airway’s] suppliers and companies that might benefit from being right next to Republic. We’ve had some preliminary meetings with people and will have more to talk about later next year.”
While discussions among residents express concerns for the percentage of for-lease units versus for-sale units being built in Carmel, Mestetsky countered with, “Apart from the Republic [Airways] project, every project coming out of the CRC has for-sale options. All of these projects increase assessed value, which means more money goes to the schools, and it’s all about making Carmel vibrant—project by project.”
For a complete list of current city projects, visit carmel.in.gov and click on “City Projects.”