North End project could bring 1-acre urban farm, mixed-use development to Carmel


A new development called North End could drastically change the landscape of a 27-acre area northeast of Smokey Row Road and U.S. 31.

Old Town Companies introduced the mixed-use project to the Carmel Plan Commission at its Oct. 15 meeting. Plans include the development of apartments, townhomes, condominiums, single-family homes and retail commercial and office space in the area between the Monon Greenway and U.S. 31 on the north side of Smokey Row Road.

“This is something that has grown as a grassroots movement,” said Rebecca McGuckin of Old Town Companies. “(Old Town Companies’ partner) Justin Moffett lives on this property. It began with community members – single-family homes currently reside there – approaching him and Old Town Companies saying, ‘We’re interested in selling, what might this look like?’ We gave neighbors character images to respond to, opportunities to share their relationship with the land and to begin to design what would go here.”

Amenities could include path connectivity, a 1-acre garden and urban farm, a fitness space and a pool in addition to programming for residents, tree preservation upon development and a more native habitat. McGuckin said a primary goal of the development will be the implementation of intergenerational housing, welcoming young professionals and senior citizens alike.

The urban farm will include a greenhouse, farm stand and a half-acre of vegetable production.

“In terms of what we presently have, there’s also historic home that will be repurposed as an urban farm-to-table restaurant,” McGuckin said.

Because a public hearing was held for the project during the plan commission meeting, several residents spoke with questions and concerns of traffic congestion in an already-busy area of town.

“We engaged the city engineer about a year ago to start this conversation (of traffic congestion),” Moffett said at the meeting. “That was our No. 1 concern. I live on this property. My brother lives on this property. Obviously we’re concerned about the impact on us, but we’re also concerned about the impact to our neighbors. At the end of the day, it’s also a business equation. The success of the project is dependent on traffic flow and getting people in and out and having a good consumer experience. We looked at traffic patterns and back-ups. The biggest back-up here is high school in the morning and sometimes in the evening. The strategy we came up with earlier in this process was to put a major roundabout structure further west, and divert all traffic away from Smokey Row Road toward U.S. 31. That would alleviate a lot of the congestion.”

Resident Jill Meisenheimer, representing Carmel Citizens for Responsible Zoning, said she would like to know how the density will affect nearby neighborhoods.

“It looks sort of like an island of tall buildings and congestion in the low-intensity surroundings,” she said. “What is the actual density? It doesn’t look like enough single-family homes to make a neighborhood in the middle of this sea of taller buildings.”

Moffett later clarified the number of units proposed by showing a color-coded map of the development area.

“In blue, we are presenting approximately 240 multi-family units. Yellow, approximately 46 townhomes and single-family homes. In purple, 30 condominium units, and then the commercial space is approximately 40,000 square feet,” he said. “We are not making a commitment tonight on density or unit count. Urban residential (zoning), by right, allows us to do a whole lot more than what we’re showing here.”

The plan commission voted to send the site plan and primary plat approval to the city’s residential committee. The committee will review the proposal and return it to the plan commission at a future meeting.