Carmel Committee accepts $ 25 million bond, but requires board approval for land acquisitions • Current publication
$ 25 million bond proposal to fund land acquisition for future redevelopment, roundabout art, Midtown water tower light show and other projects comes back to council Carmel Municipal Council with a favorable recommendation on April 27 from the Council’s Finance Committee. The board is ready to vote on the bonds, which will be repaid through tax increase funding, at its May 3 meeting.
The biggest allowance – $ 13.4 million – is intended to purchase sites considered by the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, primarily in the Arts and Design District, Midtown, City Center and Home Place. The wording of the bonds does not require the funds to be used to purchase specific properties, but earlier this year city councilors received a list – which has not been made public – of 26 potential plots priced at. estimated between $ 16,000 and $ 3.7 million.
Because the funds are not tied to specific projects, councilor and finance committee member Adam Aasen proposed an amendment that would require land purchases using bond funds to come to city council for a vote. The committee approved the amendment.
“It’s not a blank check. It’s transparency, “Aasen said on April 29.” Everything about this connection has been exposed and open to the public and carefully vetted. The acquisition of property will be open and open to the public. “
Currently, board members are notified when CRC is considering purchasing a property, and any advisor can request the purchase in front of the board for a final vote. The proposed amendment will make the board vote automatic for the properties associated with the bond.
Aasen said he might have voted against the bonds if his amendment had not been approved. In February, Aasen, whose family at the time owned Italian restaurant Donatello in the arts and design district, had strong reservations about some of the sites offered on the land acquisition list because they included ” desirable properties’ full of small businesses that might have trouble finding another affordable location in Carmel when moving.
The building that housed Donatello and several other small businesses was one of the sites on the list presented to council, but in February Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said it was no longer on the table.
“We have made the decision not to proceed with the acquisition of properties (of these buildings) at this time,” said Brainard. “These are very, very old buildings, and they are at the end of their useful life. I imagine homeowners would like to see them redeveloped at some point in the future, but this is not a property the city is going to pursue if the property acquisition that is part of the TIF obligation is approved.
Aasen, whose restaurant closed on April 3 after more than 10 years in business, said he had had open and honest conversations with the director of the Brainard and Carmel Redevelopment Commission, Henry Mestetsky, as the Advisers had been reviewing the Bonds over the past several months, which led – along with the approval of his amendment – to his decision to support the Bonds.
The process even led to an improvement in trust with city officials, Aasen said. Shortly after taking office in January 2020, the city announced that the Carmichael Hotel, which it developed with Pedcor Companies, would cost 46% more than expected when the council approved its funding. Aasen said this led to a loss of trust with the Brainard administration.
This is not the case this time around, he says.
“I think this process went very well,” he said. “Maybe it’s been a long way to mend some of the Carmichael Hotel trust (problem).”
Other items included in the $ 25 million obligation are:
- Carmel Clay Historical Society Expansion – $ 2.5 million
- Illuminated Water Tower Display – $ 1.5 Million
- Electronic information kiosks – $ 650,000
- CPAC Indoor Advertising – $ 225,000
- Tarkington Garage Upgrades – $ 720,000
- Sophia Square Garage Improvements – $ 200,000
- 96th Street Roundabout Art by Arlon Bayliss – $ 2.5 million
- Zotec Roundabout Art – $ 500,000
- Roundabout landscaping – $ 1 million
- Land acquisition – $ 13,440,000