Tru by Hilton hotel, offices planned north of Ritz Charles

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Developers are hoping the third time’s the charm for a proposed hotel just north of Ritz Charles event center.

Lauth Group has submitted plans with the City of Carmel to build a five-story Tru by Hilton hotel, three-story office complex and parking garage on approximately 4 acres at 12166 N. Meridian St.

This is the third time a developer has proposed a hotel on the site. The first plans included a stand-alone hotel with surface parking, which did not meet the city’s standards for the site, and a second developer dropped its plans – which included increased density and underground parking – after determining costs were prohibitive, said Larry Longman, senior vice president with Lauth Group, at a June 25 Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

“What we think we’ve found in this third effort is something that really strikes harmony with the economics that make this work,” Longman said.

The BZA approved a variance to allow hotel uses on all five floors of the building without the hotel being defined as full-service, as required by city code. Plans for the hotel do not include a conference center, which is required in a full-service hotel, because that use would be covered next door at Ritz Charles.

“This development is not desiring to compete with, nor detract from, the existing Ritz Charles business, and therefore the request is for consideration of the Ritz Charles to provide the necessary elements that would make the proposed hotel function as a full-service facility,” Lauth’s filing for the variance stated. “There are several shared components that clearly show the integration of the properties toward this use.”

Bill Nicholls, president and co-owner of Ritz Charles, expressed support for the hotel and variance in a letter written to city officials.

“The prospect of having a first-class hotel as part of our overall campus environment is one that is welcomed and greatly anticipated,” Nicholls stated. “We believe a partnership utilizing both of our facilities is not only eminent, but much needed.”

Officials from Lauth said they have been meeting with the mayor’s office and the Carmel Redevelopment Commission to consider adding townhomes along the western side of the parking structure.

“The project as currently proposed does not meet the zoning requirements along the corridor, so the city has suggested other elements that would meet the expectations of the city,” stated Henry Mestetsky, CRC executive director, in an email. “Because garages can be lifeless and unattractive if not done right, developers have often wrapped them with housing or other uses when building in Carmel.  All these concepts are part of ongoing negotiations to make sure the City’s built environment continues to add to the quality of life for our residents.”

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