Hearing officer approves plans for Merchants Bank expansion in Carmel Midtown


Plans to expand the Merchants Bank headquarters in Midtown received approval Aug. 24 from a Carmel Plan Commission hearing officer.

The bank plans to build a five-story, 111,000-square-foot office building on one acre at 420 3rd Ave. SW, west of its existing office building. Because the project is in an area with C2 zoning, site plan and design required approval from a hearing officer rather than the full plan commission. Mike Hollibaugh, director of Carmel’s Department of Community Services, served as the hearing officer.

The 72-foot-tall office building is part of a $133 million project to redevelop the site of a former AT&T building to also include 244 luxury apartments and a parking garage. The Carmel City Council approved tax increment financing to help fund the project in 2022, but specific details about the buildings were not finalized at the time.

Before Hollibaugh approved the plans for the bank expansion, which includes a third-story walkway over 3rd Ave. SW to connect the two Merchant’s buildings, two Carmel residents spoke against the project during a public hearing.

Wes Bucher, who lives near the project site and previously worked as the city’s DOCS director, took issue with the site plan and design for a project of this scale not going before a larger city board for review.

“We have been dismayed by the lack of any public hearing for this project by the city council, plan commission or the BZA due to its zoning classification. We believe we are at an unfair position to present our views on a project that has such a significant impact on our neighborhood,” Bucher said. “We don’t seek special treatment, just fair and equal treatment given to other neighborhoods.”

Henry Mestetsky, director of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, said plans for the bank expansion fit within C2 zoning guidelines, which allow structures up to 75 feet tall. The city council rezoned the site in 2015.

“This is exactly the kind of project the rest of the state would kill for to have,” he said. “We are thankful to have these $130 million-plus investments in our core that continue building out our downtown and frankly result in a huge increase in the value of surrounding properties.”

The bank expansion is set to be occupied solely by Merchants Bank.


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