It’s been debated for months and now the muncipally backed bonds for a parking garage to support the next phase of the Carmel City Center have now been passed.
Here’s an artist rendering of what it will look like:
The bonds were passed 4-3 with City Councilor Luci Snyder being the deciding “swing vote.”
Here are some links to past coverage for background if you need it:
Now that it’s passed, here’s a look at the garage and why each person voted the way they did:
LUCI SNYDER – YES VOTE
Seen as the “Sandra Day O’Connor” of the Carmel City Council, Snyder is often critical of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, but she also considers herself pragmatic. She gave a speech explaining that when the Carmel City Center was originally proposed, she was told there would be two floors of underground parking and she said now they have to build another garage to support all of the growth in that area. Part of that is because there’s a high water table in that area and she said she told developers about that but Pedcor — who owns the Carmel City Center — said they knew about it and would make it work. Well, it didn’t work and there’s only one underground floor which she thinks isn’t enough.
“We didn’t get two levels of parking and we’ve suffered ever since. Some restaurants have suffered and some have left as a result.”
Snyder also said she was happy that they convinced Pedcor to make some adjustments to the look of the building to make it more appealing.
“We looked at the plans and they weren’t as attractive as some us would have liked,” she said.
But she believes Pedcor when they made a promise that there will be at least 620 parking spaces and 75 percent of the parking for this new garage will be available to the public. The garage will be four stories — it was unknown previously whether it would be three or four — and Pedcor will pay to maintain the garage.
“What happened ten years ago will not be repeated,” she said.
Here are here notes outlining what she said:
KEVIN “WOODY” RIDER – YES VOTE
Rider has come under fire by some because of a perceived “conflict of interest” because his restaurant, Divvy, is one of the major tenants of the Carmel City Center. As a result, it would appear that he would benefit financially through growth in the area. But one member of the public, Steve Brooks, spoke at multiple meetings, alleging that Pedcor CEOs owned a portion of the business which presented an even greater conflict of interest. This came up again prior to the vote and Rider said it simply wasn’t true.
Here’s a video of the exchange. The is a user-created video, so the editorial comments that pop up on them are not from the Current in Carmel.[jwplayer mediaid=”24611″]
City Councilor Ron Carter defended Rider saying there have been plenty of times that City Councilor Carol Schleif should have recused herself because she had a conflict of interest because she’s part of the lawsuit regarding the annexation of Southwest Clay.
Rider voted for the bonds because he said he felt good about the level of guarantees. Rider said the likelihood of the Special Benefits Tax is like, “the chance of a meteor hitting Carmel.”
Rider also noted that Pedcor would not bid on the garage and therefore would not benefit financially from having its tax money (TIF) go toward paying for the garage.
RON CARTER — YES VOTE
Carter pointed out that even if there were to be a Special Benefits Tax — which he thinks is unlikely — it would only be about $24 a year to make up a million dollar shortfall, which he thinks is not a lot.
He’s said again and again that he supports Brainard’s vision of Carmel and trusts the actions of the CRC.
SUE FINKAM – YES VOTE
Finkam didn’t speak at the meeting, but she told reporters that it’s important to get the next step of the City Center underway and that it will be a positive for economic development in Carmel. She said she’s confident that there are so many layers of protection to avoid the Special Benefits Tax that she admits she’s annoyed when the talk of the tax continues. She said continuing to make people afraid of the SBT is bad for public perception because she said it’s simply not true that Carmel is in bad financial shape. Finkam believes Carmel’s future financial outlook is very strong.
RICK SHARP – NO VOTE
Sharp always has been strongly against the idea of a Special Benefits tax, but his vote against these bonds were about more than that. He said Pedcor hasn’t kept its promise when developing the Carmel City Center. It was supposed to be an area with plenty of public spaces and squares for meetings and gatherings. From that perspective, it made sense that public money would go toward these public spaces, but he said it hasn’t turned out that way.
He provided visuals on the ELMO device and pointed at several public spaces, such as Hanover Square, the Fountain Plaza and Chandelier Court. All of those spaces have been eliminated from the plans, although Chandelier Court might still be created one day when the Nash Building is finished.
“That was the partnership to me,” he said. “I know that things evolve and change over time…but I still don’t see that I’m getting the grand part of the city that we had envisioned back then. What I see now is really a quite dense housing project.”
Sharp said he’s also still concerned about the SBT and he wanted a stronger guarantee, such as asking for Pedcor CEO Bruce Cordingley to guarantee his own money as a level of protection.
“I believe this sets a dangerous precedent,” Sharp said.
CAROL SCHLEIF – NO VOTE
Since she comes from an architectural background, Schlief is very interested in aethestics and the feel of a project. As a result,s he said she’s disappointed with the look of the Carmel City Center Phase Two, saying, “all we’re getting is some street trees,” and she feels the City Council should have been involved in the planning stages.
“I don’t feel the urgency put us on here to get this done right away,” Schleif said. “I think there’s a win-win here. I just don’t think it’s time sensitive.”
Schlieif adds that generally she’s not in favor of the public paying for parking garages and believes that should be a private endeavor.
ERIC SEIDENSTICKER — NO VOTE
Council President Seidensticker said he is in support of developing the City Center, but that he has to be prudent with taxpayer money. He said he just can’t put taxpayers at risk for a project that a private company could build themselves.
“So many owners of their own buildings have paid for their own parking,” Seidensticker said.
Seidensticker asked if it’s such as good deal, then why add the SBT? He said he’s all for parking, but doesn’t want to put taxpayers at risk
For more background, here are some documents relating to this project:[gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/cover.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-1.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-2.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-3.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-4.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-5.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-6.pdf”] [gview file=”https://youarecurrent.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/section-7.pdf”]