A new year dawns: After months of enduring pandemic, Carmel leaders hopeful for brighter future in 2021


While the changing of the calendar to 2021 won’t put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc around the globe, leaders in Carmel and beyond are hopeful that next year will usher in the end of the crisis, even if it’s many months away.

The following is an overview of what Carmel residents can expect in 2021, although life in a quickly evolving pandemic means all of it is subject to change.

Curbing COVID-19

The first COVID-19 vaccinations were given in mid-December in Carmel, and they are expected to become more widely available in 2021.

It’s not yet known when each phase of immunizations will begin, but Christian Walker, Hamilton County Health Dept. emergency preparedness coordinator, said he anticipates the final phase, which includes the general public not included in previous phases, occurring in mid-2021.

“This situation is so fluid we really are making best guesses at this point,” he said. “Hopefully, it is sooner rather than later.”

County health officials rely on guidance from the Indiana State Dept. of Health, which takes many of its cues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the following order for vaccine distribution:

  • Phase 1a (happening now): health care workers and nursing home residents
  • Phase 1b (as early as mid-January): People age 75 and older and front-line essential workers (such as first responders, mail carriers, grocery store employees, teachers and child-care workers)
  • Phase 1c (timeline TBD): Essential workers not included in Phase 1b (such as food service employees, construction workers, bank tellers and the media) and people age 65 to 74 and people age 16 to 64 with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19
  • Phase 2 (timeline TBD): Everyone 16 and older not included in the previous phases.

Visit cdc.gov and hamiltoncounty.in.gov/254/Health-Department to learn more.

The return of events?

It’s been nearly 10 months since the COVID-19 pandemic started the wave of cancellations in Carmel and beyond. Its clearing of calendars will continue in 2021, as events such as the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will be virtual and the debut of an international film fest — originally scheduled for May 2021 — will be pushed back at least a year.

With the COVID-19 vaccine hopefully bringing an end to the pandemic, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said he expects events and large gatherings to return mid-year.

“We’re hopefully going to get back to our normal schedule by June 1 if not before. I think everyone’s looking forward to that,” Brainard said. “Organizers of the Christkindlmarkt are well along in planning for 2021. We know that we want to have a great Fourth of July celebration. Assuming things continue to go as well as we think they’ll go with this vaccine rollout, we should be in good shape by mid-spring.”

CIC COVER 1229 New Dawn Playfair Holland
The Playfair-Holland building is set to open in 2021. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

Redevelopment continues

Several redevelopment projects in Carmel are expected to make progress in 2021.

Hotel Carmichael in Carmel City Center made its much-anticipated debut in 2020, but the opening of the upscale cocktail bar and music venue Feinstein’s within the hotel was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected to open in early 2021.

Carmel Redevelopment Commissifon Director Henry Mestetsky said that 2021 is looking to be a strong year for the hotel, with weddings booked nearly every weekend throughout the year.

Other City Center projects in the works include the Playfair-Holland building, which is expected to be complete in mid-2021. Industrious will offer 27,000 square feet of flexible office space on the first floor of the building. The Wren building will be under construction throughout 2021, and work on the Windsor building may begin next year, Mestetsky said.

The Proscenium will continue to take shape, with construction of the mixed-use development on the southwest corner of Range Line Road and Carmel Drive wrapping up in 2021.

“This project is looking better every day, and the majority of the buildings should be finished in 2021,” Mestetsky said. “Wahlbergers (restaurant) will begin building out their space soon. I am also very eager for the park in the middle of the project to get developed. Together with the regional detention project the (Clay Township) is working on, watching our beautiful, walkable central core expand like this is very exciting.”

In the first quarter of 2021, demolition should begin on the buildings on the northeast corner of Range Line Road and Main Street to make way for the Lot One redevelopment project. The CRC is partnering with Carmel-based developer Lauth on the project, which will include a three-story office building along Main Street and 70 apartments in another building to the north. It also will include a 325-space parking garage, four condos and a small park near the existing Rotary clock. Architectural drawings are expected to be publicly revealed soon.

Construction on The Corner, a redevelopment project by Kite Realty on the southwest corner of 116th Street and Range Line Road, is expected to begin in the first or second quarter of 2021. The mixed-use project on 4.6 acres will include nearly 25,000 square feet of retail, 278 apartments and a parking garage. The Corner is expected to be complete by early 2023.

In early 2021, construction is set to begin on Melangé, which will include 12 condos and 45 brownstones on 2.6 acres along the Monon Greenway just south of Civic Square.

Work will continue into 2021 to complete a refresh of Brookshire Village Shoppes at the southwest corner of 126th Street and Gray Road. Anchor tenant Needler’s Fresh Market is set to open in the shopping center in 2021.

Construction on the first phase of North End also is expected to begin in 2021. The project by Old Town Companies on the north side of Smoky Row Road between the Monon Greenway and U.S. 31 will have apartments, townhomes, condos, single-family homes, retail and office space.

CIC COVER 1229 New Dawn Magnolia
The Magnolia development on the southeast corner of Range Line Road and City Center Drive is set to break ground in early 2021. (Submitted image)

Construction is set to begin in early 2021 on the first phase of a redevelopment project on the southeast corner of Range Line Road and City Center Drive. The Magnolia development by Old Town Companies will have luxury condominiums and two-story city homes. The site is home to Mohawk Landing, a 40-year-old shopping center purchased by the City of Carmel in 2017.

Park projects

Upgrades continue at several Carmel parks, many of them a result of the Clay Township Impact Program approved in mid-2019 that allocated $60 million for these projects and several others.

Renovations at Carey Grove Park are set to be complete in January 2021. They include a new playground surrounded by shade structures and workout equipment, a half basketball court and public restrooms. An official grand opening for the park is planned for spring 2021.

Flowing Well Park remains closed for improvements that include a new restroom facility and bank stabilization. The park is expected to reopen in spring 2021.

Construction has begun at West Park to add parking, upgrade the playground and sprayground and improve the restrooms. The renovations in the park, which remains partially open, are expected to be complete by fall 2021.

A renovation of Meadowlark Park will include a new playground, four pickleball courts, a full basketball court, boardwalks, restrooms and a fishing pier. Construction is set to begin in early 2021 and be complete by fall 2021.

A new splash pad and restroom facility will replace existing structures at Lawrence W. Inlow Park. Construction is anticipated to begin in early spring 2021 and be complete by fall 2021.

CCPR scrapped plans to build a new wheelchair accessible playground at River Heritage Park when Citizens Energy Group next door announced it plans to expand its water plant, which will impact the front portion of the park. Instead, CCPR will develop a wheelchair accessible trail network, which will include boardwalks and scenic overlooks. Construction is set to begin in spring 2021 and be complete by the end of the year.

CCPR expects to begin construction in 2021 of a pedestrian bridge across the White River to connect Hamilton County’s River Road Park and Carmel’s White River Greenway to Conner Prairie and Fishers’ Conner Trail. The bridge project is expected to be complete in 2022. CCPR also plans to finalize plans for expansion of the White River Greenway north to 146th Street. Construction is expected in the next one to three years.

CCPR expects to begin the master planning process for Bear Creek and Cherry Tree parks in 2021.

CIC COVER 1229 New Dawn Carmel Elementary
A new Carmel Elementary School building is under construction adjacent to the existing building. It will open for the 2021-22 school year. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

New districts, diversity officer   

Carmel Clay Schools ended 2020 by approving a redistricting plan necessitated by the closure of Orchard Park Elementary at the end of the 2020-21 school year. That means hundreds of students will head to a different campus to begin the 2021-22 school year.

04.terri .roberts.leonard
Terri Roberts-Leonard

School officials plan to finish the 2020-21 school year with activities to make the transitions as smooth as possible. It also plans to hold an event to celebrate the history and legacy of Orchard Park. The district has not yet decided what will happen with the building after the school year ends.

Clay Center Elementary will make its debut in west Carmel in 2021, as will a rebuilt Carmel Elementary building.

The district’s first diversity, equity and inclusion officer will start on Jan. 19, 2021. Terri Roberts-Leonard, currently director of diversity and inclusion at Franklin College, will be the first to hold the job in CCS.

Road improvements

Road projects planned in the city in 2021 include new roundabouts along Range Line Road at 116th Street, Medical Drive and 6th Street. The city will also upgrade 6th Avenue between Midtown Boulevard and Range Line Road, complete Veterans Way between Carmel Drive and City Hall and improve the Monon Greenway along City Center.

The city also will use $1 million it received in matching funds through INDOT’s Community Crossings program for resurfacing of:

  • 126th Street from Keystone Parkway to Hazel Dell Parkway
  • Spring Mill Road from 96th Street to Illinois Street
  • 141st Street from Ditch Road to Towne Road
  • Lakeshore Drive from 96th Street to 106th Street
  • Hazel Dell Parkway from 116th Street to 126th Street
  • 96th Street from Michigan Road to U.S. 31
  • Emerson Road from Guilford Road to 4th Avenue