What does Carmel still need?

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Some exciting things are coming to Carmel in 2015.

For the longest time, people said Carmel needed a dog park. Well, Carmel Clay Parks is opening one this year. People said there needed to be a movie theater near Carmel’s downtown. Flix Brewhouse is opening off of Carmel Drive in a few months.

And there are plenty of other things you can no longer say that Carmel needs. Two new donut shops. Two new comic book shops. At least two different tattoo shops. Carmel is certainly growing.

So I thought it’d be fun to try to answer the question: What does Carmel still need? I contacted some people to hear some feedback and this is what I’ve heard.

Note: I’m not saying whether any of these developments should be private or publicly funded. I’m just discussing some of the things that people said they would like to see in Carmel.

MORE MEETING SPACE – As Carmel keeps attracting new companies to move to the area, there will be a great need for meeting spaces. Companies will want to have banquets and luncheons and although there are many options right now, there’s always a need for more. Southside Indianapolis institution Jonathan Byrd’s catering and banquet service is transforming the former Fountains site into a new facility. There’s even been talk in the past of building a large convention center in Carmel to attract top events here locally.

EMPTY NESTER LIVING – Again and again, the Carmel City Council has asked home developers to consider increasing options for the elderly and empty nester populations. Residents like buying large homes for their families, but when the kids move out it might seem like too much space. And as residents get older, it makes more sense to have homes with bedrooms on the first floor and easy walkways. There’s been an increase in such development, such as the Sunrise on the Monon planned unit development, but councilors say they always want more because they don’t want to see longtime Carmel taxpayers to move to nearby Fishers or Noblesville. City Councilor Ron Carter said it’s important to consider empty nester homes need to be affordable because homeowners don’t want to obtain a new mortgage when they enter retirement. They would prefer the empty nester homes to at least equal the cost of their previous houses, if not less.

HOMES/ENTERTAINMENT FOR MILLENNIALS – As more businesses relocate to Carmel, there might be an influx of young millennials working in the area. There will need to be more housing options and amenities to accommodate this growing population. Home developers are already constructing high-end rental units for these millennials, such as The Seasons, a new project from Barrett & Stokely and Pittman Partners. Millennials might also desire more bike trails and night life to accommodate their lifestyle. We’re not talking about turning the Carmel Arts & Design District into Broad Ripple, but currently there are only a few late-night offerings. Even if a 25-year-old is a serious professional, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to have a drink or stay out past 1 a.m. on the weekends. These kinds of businesses could possibly be incorporated in Carmel’s nightlife without turning the area into a noisy, dangerous, irritating place to be.

PUBLIC SPACES – Carmel doesn’t lack for parks and gathering spaces, but as the population increases there is always a growing need for places to have outdoor events. New buildings – retail and residential – all are urged to consider incorporating plazas and parks where people can stroll and enjoy each other. Mayor Jim Brainard said he could even envision outdoor ice skating or a place where people can play checkers on a park stool. Public art – another need that some have identified – could be incorporated into these spaces. While some people don’t like seeing taxpayers pay for art, that’s beside the point. I’m not arguing about who should pay for these things, all I’m doing is identifying the needs.

BAKERY – One of the most frequent suggestions I’ve heard is a small, locally-owned bakery that sells breads and rolls. There are plenty of bakeries that sell cupcakes, cakes, cake balls and donuts, but there really isn’t a locally-owned place to get a fresh baked baguette to go along with your meat from Joe’s Butcher Shop. Of course, I could imagine that would be a tough business to be in and there’s probably a reason why grocery stores and corporate chains are now the most common places for fresh baked bread.

TYPES OF RESTAURANTS – The most common request I hear is more ethnic restaurants. Many people in Carmel have traveled the world. They are generally more educated and affluent. That would make you think that they would be receptive to more adventurous cuisine. People say they want a Greek restaurant. A hibachi-style Japanese steakhouse. A French restaurant or café. A German restaurant. Indianapolis boasts cuisine from Korea, Ethiopia, Cuba, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Brazil and more. Some tell me they would like to see more upscale fine dining where they can enjoy a fancy dinner. Others just say “more locally owned restaurants” in general.

SOME OTHER IDEAS I’VE HEARD:
– Bike sharing program
– A cigar shop
– More gift shops along Main Street for tourists
– A beer garden
– More live music venues
– More bike paths
– A corner grocery and produce vendor
– Business incubator space/building
– A healthy fast food restaurant with a drive-thru
– A botanical garden
– Chuck E. Cheese
– Japanese tea house
– Public transportation

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