That’s a Wrap on 2019 and Another Decade in Carmel
As the year winds down and a brand-new decade awaits the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, we sat down with Mayor Jim Brainard to take a look back at some of the year’s major projects and gain some insight as to what projects will be completed and which ones are slated to begin in 2020 that will set the pace for the next several years.
The Keystone Bridge and Other Projects of Interest
Once crews moved traffic onto the bridge heading southbound, commuters received a bit of a reprieve from the traffic congestion last month while crews continue to finish up work underneath the bridge at 96th Street. According to Brainard, “Despite the early arrival of cooler weather and bouts of rain, the construction crew has been able to stay on schedule and plan to be completed with the majority of the project by the end of this year.”
Other city projects of interest that the mayor said are still being negotiated include the former PNC lot, or Lot One as it is now known, that is located at the northeast corner of Main Street and Range Line Road in the Arts & Design District. The request for proposal was the first step in the process to redevelop the land into a mixed-use development. PNC Bank, which sold the land to the city, will remain on the property throughout and after the redevelopment is completed.
“In addition to Lot One, we are working on five other projects along Range Line Road in the redevelopment area,” Brainard said. “We are still in the planning stages for Monon Square [shopping center] as well. There is a lot going on [in the city], and we are also working on getting the infrastructure investments in Home Place that will include the township-funded roundabouts at 111th and Westfield Boulevard and 111th and College Avenue. We are looking at additional roundabouts at the intersections of 96th and College, 106th and College and 106th and Westfield. Additionally, we will be adding more bike paths and better drainage for that area, so we’re working on all that as well.”
Brainard went on to explain that the city has spent over $40 million over the last three years in drainage improvements to Carmel.
“We’re making progress,” he said. “We had the heavy rains this season, and it was first time in years that I didn’t get any calls about flooding, so I think we’re making progress. The storms have been more intense and have produced greater amounts of rain in shorter periods of time, so we’ve made adjustments to the [drainage] system to compensate for that as well, but I’m comfortable saying that we’ve made a lot of progress in the stormwater drainage area as a whole, and we will continue to invest in that and make improvements.”
Living, Working and Playing Well in Carmel
The city continues to attract new businesses and headquarters from across the nation and throughout the world as it boasts a quality of life and a vast menu of amenities and entertainment venues that are unrivaled in surrounding communities.
“It is good to see continued construction along the U.S. 31 corridor,” Brainard said. “The KAR [global] headquarters recently opened, and we are continuing to work on bringing in more corporate headquarters to this area, the Midtown and central parts of Carmel as well. There’s a long line of developers that want to invest in Carmel, and that’s good for our tax base.”
Brainard added, “Whether it’s the private sector or government sector, communities need those investments if they’re going to thrive and prosper.”
With the completion of the Midtown Plaza, and the continued improvements made to Monon Boulevard, residents and workers alike have been enjoying the community “play yard,” the local breweries and restaurants as well as community viewing parties and friendly matches of ping pong, billiards or cornhole that break up the monotony of the workday or provide a pretty awesome backdrop for people and families to come hang out on the weekends.
“It [Midtown Plaza] is really amazing,” Brainard said. “I’m really happy with what the designers have done with Midtown. It is a product of the feedback that I was given by members of our community all those years ago when they told me they wanted a walkable, mixed-use downtown and not just a series of retail strip centers in the suburb.”
Looking Ahead at 2020
The mayor was proud to share that the Carmel Fire Department is looking at adding 15 additional firefighters to operate a new ladder truck that will continue to make Carmel safer.
“Our fire department is one of the few accredited [fire] departments in the state,” Brainard shared. “This will be another great safety improvement for the city. We will also continue to plant lots of trees in Carmel to help the environment and add to the beauty of our city. We have a lot of improvements coming with our park system over the next several years. We will be investing in our existing parks, and we’re continuing to look for opportunities for small urban parks in the downtown area.”
Without mountains and oceans, the city has had to create amenities and opportunities for people in order to compete with other states, regions and even countries with regard to economic development.
“We’ve had to work hard at providing a quality of life to be able to get people to come here, and if we continue to invest in the community and make it a place that people with the education, experience and skills to go anywhere in the world choose to live, here in Carmel, then we will continue to thrive and prosper. If we are unable to do that, we will lose jobs and decline. It is important for that reason that we continue to invest in the quality of life and the amenities for the entire community.”