When the Carmel city councilors approved $6.5 million in bonds earlier this year to support the Lot One redevelopment project on the northeast corner of Main Street and Range Line Road, they were told construction was expected to begin in early 2021.
During the monthly Carmel Redevelopment Commission update at the Nov. 16 Carmel City Council meeting, the buildings in the project rendering were represented by a white placeholder box, as they have been since bonds were approved.
Carmel-based developer Lauth is spending nearly $40 million on the project, which includes a three-story office building along Main Street and 70 apartments in another building to the north wrapping a 325-space parking garage. The project also will include four condos and a small park near the existing Rotary clock.
Despite the lack of new details, Lauth Marketing Director Judy Knafel said the project is still expected to break ground in 2021 and that architectural renderings should be public by the end of the year.
“We are currently working on preconstruction work involving site utilities, construction staging, engaging site and environmental engineers – the behind the scenes planning work that takes place before breaking ground on a project of this size,” Knafel said.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said it is not unusual for these types of projects to develop slowly.
“This is typical for one of our public/private partnerships,” he said. “They’re a long time in the making before you see a shovel in the ground.”
Brainard said it’s important for the city and developer to be deliberate throughout the planning process to ensure the best possible product.
“When we allow a developer to use their tax money to build a building, part of the quid pro quo for that is we get better architecture and better materials than we would’ve gotten otherwise. That’s usually a process that takes place over many months of negotiation,” Brainard said. “That’s why Carmel, quite honestly, looks as nice as it does, is (because) the CRC has insisted over the years if taxpayer money is involved in a redevelopment area, we’re going to have a much higher standard of architecture and building materials.”
Lot One developers are using tax increment financing, which collects the increase in tax revenue generated by the project to help pay for it, to help cover the cost of the parking garage.
In the spring of 2019, the city released renderings of Lot One redevelopment projects submitted by eight developers. At the time, city officials expected the project to break ground in 2020. However, the city decided not to go with any of the submitted options and instead decided to partner with Lauth — one of the eight developers to submit a proposal — to move forward.
The city has not announced an estimated date for the project to begin.