Carmel VFW post members worried planned hotel could ‘bury’ building

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A Home2 Suites by Hilton is planned at 12845 Old Meridian St. (Submitted photo)

The Carmel Plan Commission is considering a new hotel with more than 67,000 square feet of space at 12845 Old Meridian Street. But members of the Carmel VFW Post 10003 have raised concerns about what the new building might mean for their meeting place.

VFW members have expressed concerns that the Home2 Suites by Hilton, which would be five stories with 88 rooms, would have a negative effect on the post since it would be located on land directly in front of their headquarters.

“This will essentially bury us,” said Marla Ailor, lifetime auxiliary member of the Carmel VFW.

Ailor said one major issue is parking. VFW doesn’t own the parking lot, and the land agreement states there would be shared parking. Hilton is proposing a little more than 100 spaces and would leave the VFW with a little more than 20 parking spaces if all 88 rooms are booked. Ailor said that’s not enough to support a normal Friday or Saturday at the VFW, which could have approximately 40 cars in the parking lot. In addition, she said there are often outdoor events such as the fall festival which make use of the parking lot and other outdoor areas that may have nowhere else to go.

Since the VFW would be behind the hotel it’s possible people could drive past the headquarters without realizing it. She said the VFW would like to see a proper sign along the street so people could know it is there.

The area has been rezoned as part of Carmel’s urban core through the city’s new unified design ordinance.

“We understood something would be built there, but we just didn’t think it’d be a hotel,” Ailor said.

Ailor said the VFW hoped that office space or something with mostly daytime traffic would be built instead because it would be easier to share the parking lot. The VFW requires more parking spots in the evening than during the day.

The hotel developers are asking the city to accept certain variances. The current height standard is 55 feet but the developer would like permission to construct up to 62 feet. They are also asking for a blade sign to be placed on the building along with a reduction in the width of landscaping buffer.

The Plan Commission’s commercial committee will have final voting authority at its March 6 meeting.

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