Developers outline plans for 214 rental homes proposed on 25 acres in west Carmel


Developers of a build-to-rent neighborhood proposed near the Village of WestClay presented details about the project, known as Luxe Communities of West Carmel, and answered questions from attendees at a May 7 standing-room-only community meeting that turned heated at times.

Luxe BTR wants to build 214 rental homes of various sizes and styles on 25 acres southeast of Towne Road and 126th Street. Seven large for-sale homes are planned on 12 acres to the south, including one already on the property that would be preserved along with an existing barn.

Brad Richey of Carmel and Jason Brown of Zionsville are the principals of Luxe BTR, which was founded in 2023. Richey has more than 30 years of multi-family development experience with Pearl Real Estate Companies, and Brown is an investment banker with Berkadia. Luxe Communities of West Carmel is the first build-to-rent project for Richey and Brown.

Luxe BTR plans to file a request with the City of Carmel May 15 to rezone the land to a planned unit development, meaning development standards would be specific to the project and must be approved by the Carmel City Council. The VOWC is zoned as a PUD, and Luxe BTR plans to base the style of the homes and other standards on the VOWC PUD. The PUD standards and any associated commitments would remain in place for any future owners of the site and could only be changed with approval from the city council.

Several attendees at the community meeting, held at the VOWC Meeting House, questioned the ownership structure of Luxe BTR and its financing for the project.

Brown said developers “don’t have financing lined up yet” because the project is still in the early stages. Richey described Luxe BTR as a general partnership and said he and Brown are meeting with potential investors.

“We are in active discussions with investors who will invest in this and then in the equity stack, so to speak,” Richey said. “There will also be traditional financing put on the project as well.”

Richey said research shows that nearly 60 percent of those living in build-to-rent communities rent by choice and that residents tend to stay there longer as opposed to other rental options, such as apartments. He said build-to-rent neighborhoods have grown in popularity across the U.S. in recent years.

“Through all the surveys, the No. 1 reason for wanting to rent in one of these communities is for ease of maintenance,” Richey said.

He also said that many people choosing build-to-rent neighborhoods are empty nesters, so half of the rental homes in Luxe Communities of West Carmel will have master bedrooms on the first floor.

However, several attendees at the meeting said they didn’t believe the community as proposed is designed primarily for empty nesters, as only 16 dwellings are set to be a single story. One resident at the meeting said the project appeared to be a “bait and switch.”

Other attendees raised concerns about traffic, possible use of VOWC amenities by Luxe Communities residents leading to increased maintenance costs and a lack of experience by the developers in constructing a build-to-rent community. The majority of attendees who spoke or asked questions at the meeting did not support development as proposed.

The Carmel Plan Commission is expected to review the project at its July meeting, and it is expected to be discussed in depth by a plan commission committee. The plan commission would hold a public hearing on the rezone request before voting on it. The city council will have the final vote.

If approved, developers expect construction on the project to begin in late 2025 or early 2026. The estate homes and rental homes would be built concurrently. Construction is expected to last two years.