Pandemic speeds need for Clay Terrace transformation

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The COVID-19 pandemic caused the owners of Clay Terrace to hit the brakes on a redevelopment proposal earlier this year, but now the public health crisis — which has dealt a heavy blow to traditional retailers — has accelerated those plans.

The Carmel Plan Commission was set to discuss a Clay Terrace refresh this spring, but its owner, Washington Prime Group, held off on the petition for several months during the peak of the pandemic in Indiana. But now, it says the transformation of the 15-year-old shopping center to include proposed residential units, a hotel and a parking garage — among other new additions — is crucial to its survival.

“While Clay Terrace plans to continue to successfully reposition or transform any vacant space, more challenging and uncertain times are likely ahead in the retail industry as the full impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is yet unknown,” Steven Hardin, an attorney representing Clay Terrace, stated in documents filed with the City of Carmel. “These events make it clear for Clay Terrace to remain an asset for the community, immediate action needs to be taken to develop a unique environment with a bustling synergy of uses.”

According to a concept plan filed with the City of Carmel, the redevelopment is planned on the southeast portion of the property. A hotel is proposed along U.S. 31 just east of an existing retail building that is home to stores including The Shop and Eddie Bauer, with ground-floor retail buildings topped with apartments to the south of the hotel and along Clay Terrace Boulevard. A parking garage and surface parking is planned east of the retail and apartment buildings, with a new, undesignated building proposed just east of one that currently houses Luxe Home Interiors at the south end of the redevelopment area.

Washington Prime is asking the plan commission to amend the Clay Terrace Planned Unit Development ordinance, which outlines what may be built there. Changes include allowing coworking office space, farmers markets, outdoor entertainment, kiosks, indoor recreational facilities such as arcades and bowling alleys, day cares, wineries and craft breweries.

“While still in the early stages, we are excited about the mixed-use redevelopment project planned at Clay Terrace, which will benefit existing tenants, generate strong future leasing demand and solidify the town center as the place to shop, eat, play, work and live in the Carmel area,” said Lisa Callahan, senior vice president of development for Washington Prime Group. “The project could potentially include multifamily residential and a lifestyle hotel, as well as newly constructed retail and office space, among other new components. Additional details will be shared when we are able.”

Clay Terrace, on 50 acres on the southwest corner of 146th Street and U.S. 31, is home to more than 80 retail shops and restaurants, although it has recently lost several tenants.

Hardin stated that through the years, Clay Terrace has “endured multiple tenant bankruptcies totaling approximately 45,000 square feet of retail space including large national tenants.” Recent departures include Mitchell’s Fish Market, Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, Victoria’s Secret, Closet Candy and an announced closure of Pier 1 Imports.

The plan commission is set to discuss the proposal at its Sept. 15 meeting, set for 6 p.m. at Carmel City Hall. The meeting also may be viewed online and on the city’s TV channels.


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