By Karen Kennedy
Last week, Jeff Speck’s proposal for the redevelopment of the Midtown area was unveiled. The questions now are:
- Is this a project that Carmel taxpayers and business owners are in support of?
- How can the plan be moved forward?
- Who is responsible for doing so?
Initial response is overwhelmingly positive
Vivian Lawhead, who owns Mohawk Place as well as the Soho Café and Gallery in Mohawk Place, is delighted by the prospect of the development.
“It’s all positive,” Lawhead said. “Anything that brings more people into the area is great, but I would want it to be small, independent businesses.”
Lawhead states that new businesses continue to find success in the downtown area, citing the fact that Union Brewery, which opened last December, has exceeded their sales projections and a new Italian restaurant is planned in the plaza, with a projected opening date of September.
Jerry Points, president of the Carmel Arts & Design District Gallery Association and owner of the Eye on Art Gallery, echoes that sentiment.
“I see it as a really positive change for the area,” Points said. “I like the idea of urban density, tying the two areas together and putting more people in the downtown area. I know it won’t happen overnight, but I’m glad that there’s at least a master plan.”
Mayor Jim Brainard is considering all options to move the plan forward.
“Jeff Speck has designed this plan in such a way that it can be accomplished in many small steps, and that’s what we’ll try to do,” Brainard said. “If we can just get the avenue in, and connect the midtown area, that will be a great start. We are focusing first on the abandoned, unused areas, which are already owned by either Pedcor or the city. We are considering many different options to get the initial infrastructure in place.”
According to Brainard, the city is considering ideas from several different developers, and will try to negotiate with them to bring the project to the next step.
Who will pay for it?
“The project will have to be financed by a partnership of public and private enterprise, just as the City Center was,” Brainard said. “It’s important to recognize that the city’s primary responsibilities are the roads, sidewalks and parking, and that those can be paid for by the taxes paid by the new businesses in that area.”