By Chris Bavender
When Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard ran for office in 1995, residents told him they wanted Carmel to be “more than just a bedroom community.”
“They wanted good places to eat, great events to attend and more opportunities to experience art and culture, and they didn’t want to have to drive to downtown Indianapolis,” Brainard said. “That sentiment set in motion our vision to create a more walkable and sustainable community with more parks, more trails and more attention paid to the basics of any city, such as sidewalks.”
That vision was reflected in a recent analysis by the IU Kelley School of Business’ Indiana Business Research Center. The study found seven Indiana cities had population increases of more than 1,000 in 2016 according, to the US Census Bureau. Carmel led the state with the addition of 2,977 people.
“We know today’s workforce has choices about where they want to live. Over the past 20 years, we have invested in a number of initiatives, including the Palladium concert hall and Center for the Performing Arts, both part of our strategy to invest in cultural amenities that we know people are attracted to,” Brainard said. “And our Carmel Arts & Design District, where the oldest part of the city has been transformed into a vibrant district with restaurants, art galleries and more than 100 arts-related businesses. We have also focused on recreational amenities, adding more parks and trails for people to experience the city without having to use a car.”
Among top reasons given by those moving into Carmel, Brainard said, are the city’s tax rates, educated workforce and a corporate community that has been growing for the past few decades.
“We have worked hard to invest wisely in our community. The city maintains a very positive credit rating, and our residents pay one of the lowest property tax rates in the state of Indiana,” he said. “Our Meridian Corporate Corridor is home to the state’s second largest concentration of good-paying office jobs, making it attractive to those seeking new career opportunities.”
But with such rapid growth, is there room for Carmel to continue to accommodate new residents and businesses? The short answer, according to the mayor, is yes.
“The city still has a few pockets of potential land to develop into residential uses,” he said. “But most of our future growth in populations is more likely to come from vertical expansion in the central part of our city as we encourage mixed uses and multiple levels in new construction designed to create more residential density and vibrancy in our rapidly growing redevelopment areas.”