Carmel Redevelopment Commission uses marketing to push for city center bonds


Corrie Meyer, director of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, distributed a colorful, easy-to-read packet to help present its plan for city-backed bonds to pay for a parking garage for the second phase of the Carmel City Center.

The packet was obviously of graphic artists and marketing minds who wanted to put a positive spin on what the CRC describes as $80 to $100 million in private investment to create 10 buildings totaling 575,000 square feet. The Indianapolis Star described it as up to $20 million in new debt.

Meyer is a smart person who has anticipated there would be some resistance to any new municipally backed debt.  Four of the seven members of the Carmel City Council have expressed their concerns about the level of debt the CRC has taken on.

The three- to four-story building would have up to 625 parking spaces with 75 percent dedicated to the public.

And as if it was crafted as a marketing tag line, the report touts the parking garage as: “Self-supporting, Credit-Enhanced, Developed Maintained, Public Parking Garage.”

Those words were carefully chosen, let’s break it down.

Self-Supporting: This refers to the fact that Meyer said tax increment finance money used to pay for this garage will supposedly only come from the parking garage’s TIF district and nowhere else.

Credit-Enhanced: This refers to the “special benefits tax” used as the final guarantee on the bond. Bruce Donaldson, of Barnes and Thornburg, said the SBT is only used to get a better interest rate and is never intended to be levied. City Council President Eric Seidensticker asked what would happen if they didn’t use it and he was told the interest rate could jump from around 4 percent to perhaps in the double digits. Of course, any mention of the SBT gets many people very nervous.

Developer-Maintained:  This refers to the fact that the city owns the garage but doesn’t have to pay for maintenance. Some have criticized the CRC for the deal made with Keystone Construction with regard to the Sophia Square parking garage, which the CRC/city pays to maintain.

Public Parking Garage:  Emphasis on “public” to ease concerns that the parking spaces will only be for residents. Some have criticized the first City Center parking garage for not having enough public spaces.

You can debate these numbers and whether these projections are accurate, but you can’t debate the fact that Meyer knows that some on the City Council will need some convincing to vote for these new bonds. Some will call it putting lipstick on a pig because they think it’s a bad deal, others will say that Meyer is just anticipating any potential criticisms and preventing them from happening.

Economic Impact of City Center Phase Two

– $57 million in anticipated annual income from all households in the new residences

– 335 households

– $71 million in assessed value increase

– 570 new jobs on campus

SOURCE: CRC (projections up for debate by some)