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New downtown Carmel construction projects to begin

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In order to enhance the downtown area of Carmel with improvements that are hoped to attract citizens, work on the $20 million city center project, which was approved by the Carmel City Council, is set to begin this year. While the project includes a new four-story parking garage, council member Rick Sharp said other buildings, mainly apartment complexes with retail offices on the lower floors, are also included in this plan. He said this project was proposed a few years ago, but work on it is set to begin this year as it was discussed at a council meeting December 11.
“There’s a half dozen or more buildings that will be built there in addition to the parking structure…,” Sharp said. “It was initiated a number of years ago as a public private partnership between the city of Carmel and a company called PEDCOR, and they were chosen in kind of like a competition based on the design plan they submitted.”
Sharp said the taxes that the finished project will generate, TIF (tax increment financing) will fund a large amount of the project. Private-sourced funds from PEDCOR will cover the remainder of the funds. Sharp said he does not entirely agree with the project, but understands the goals of the council in approving the project.
“Well they’re not really my goals, in all honesty. They’re the goals of the administration city…and PEDCOR, and their goal is to create a more dense downtown,” Sharp said. “My goal as a member of the council and at that time a member of the redevelopment commission a number of years back…in approving PEDCOR to develop city center was to achieve the grand city spaces that they showed in their original designs for the area, and unfortunately, and it’s the reason I didn’t support the bond issue, those grand civic spaces have gone away in favor of some smaller ones and some wide sidewalks. I just, to me it no longer met the design goals that were outlined when they were first awarded the project.”
While Sharp does not completely support the city center development, Abby Amiss, student driver and junior, sees benefits to a new parking garage.
“I’ve driven downtown for the Palladium in the past, and I think parking can be hard to find,” Amiss said. “A new parking garage would make it easier for me to park my car and go around downtown if I wanted. Plus, it might be more convenient for me to park there instead of down the trail.”
Because of construction that will ensue in the tight area, Sharp said traffic patterns would go awry as businesses may also suffer. However, he said the problems would not last long.
“In the end I would think that the businesses would benefit from the increased population that will be living downtown,” Sharp said.
Amiss said the effects of the project would outweigh these negatives in the development process.
Amiss said, “As a student, I don’t think the construction will affect me, but the extra parking space would definitely help me out.”

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