The Union at Monon Is Poised to Be a Campus for the People

5/5 - (1 vote)

May/June 2024

This past April, the Carmel City Council voted 9-0 to approve a resolution to evaluate and consider funding sources for a proposed two-story indoor food hall and public gathering space east of the Monon Greenway and north of City Center Drive. The resolution was presented to the council by Carmel Redevelopment Commission Director Henry Mestetsky.

We spoke with Mestetsky and Carmel Mayor Sue Finkam about the highlights of this proposed project and what impact the Union would have economically and socially should it move forward and come to fruition.

An Overview of the Union

The Union, proposed as part of the redevelopment of the former Monon Square retail center, is set to be located at the south end of the site. The project includes plans for a parking garage, office space and apartments. The completion of the project is contingent on the city securing outside funding.

“This won’t happen without all of the [potential] outside funding sources coming in,” Mestetsky explained. “We are going for a $10 million READI 2.0 grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and a $7 million grant from Hamilton County Tourism.”

Mestetsky shared that there will be approximately 14-15 vendors selling hot food and specialty items. To activate the social components of the Union, Mestetsky said that there is a proposed entertainment stage with a video screen, a children’s activity area and artificial turf on the main level, a switchback or social stairway connecting the first and second floors, and a large event space with a roof deck on the second floor.

The Union at Monon

Building a Campus for All People

“The Union is a destination, whether you’re hungry or not,” Mestetsky said. “Imagine if the Monon veered indoors for a moment. It is an extension of the public realm—an indoor one. Whether you’re looking for something to eat or not, or you want to get out of the 90-degree heat, this will be an incredibly accessible civic space [that] you don’t have to pay money to [use]. You won’t feel like a guest there. This is a true civic space for everyone … an indoor heart for the city.”

Mestetsky added, “Companies want amenities for their employees, so building out [amenities] like the Union continues to make Carmel the number-one destination for offices, especially when their employees can walk to something like the Union. We’re not building an office district. We’re building a neighborhood for people where new offices want to be located.”

The Union at Monon

When asked what specific economic and social changes she anticipates Union at Monon Square will bring to the city, Mayor Finkam replied, “This will offer us a tremendous opportunity to allow residents to have indoor recreation and dining, more of a fast-casual nature all year round. It will also offer us an opportunity to allow people to gather in the winter just like they do in the summer and allow us to foster new restaurants, which might be startups or in growth mode.”

Finkam concluded, “We hope to have a variety of ethnic restaurants in this mix, which will allow people from all over to enjoy and experience different types of foods. Having the Union will allow us to have another unique opportunity for those visiting our city. They can visit Main Street Arts and Design District, the Monon Trail, and then pop into the Union to get a meal. So, it’ll just be one more place people can have a wonderful experience in Carmel.”

Updates will follow as more information becomes available.