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$100M 'Bridges' project in Carmel wins approval

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A proposal for a roughly $100 million mix of retail, office and apartments along Springmill Road south of 116th Street won approval Monday night from the Carmel City Council.

Indianapolis-based Gershman Brown Crowley Inc. plans to build the development in phases, starting with a 250,000-square-foot retail component anchored by a grocery store.

The project, dubbed The Bridges, also calls for several outlots for restaurants, banks, a gas station and a pharmacy; about 300 apartment homes or a senior community; and room for about 500,000 square feet of office space in several buildings.

The Carmel City Council approved the project with a 6-1 vote after the developer agreed to make dozens of concessions, including adding higher berms along the perimeter of the project, reducing the height of the tallest office building to 90 feet, and contributing about $2 million for road improvements in the area.

With zoning approval in hand, Gershman Brown Crowley principal Tom Crowley said the company now plans to target a specialty grocery store such as Whole Foods to anchor the center.

The company intends to develop the entire project, potentially with partners, but does not expect to sell portions to other developers.

The 62-acre project would provide more convenient services to existing office employees on the U.S. 31 corridor, home to the state’s second-largest concentration of jobs behind downtown Indianapolis.

On the other hand, Carmel zoning maps envision residential lots on the site, and neighborhood groups put up a fight to preserve the thoroughfare’s residential character.

Those opposed to the project fear a traffic mess, and they objected to the project’s size, the inclusion of apartments, and the proposed office space—which some opponents saw as a boondoggle given already high vacancy rates.

“The project is over the top as far as size and scope,” Zak Brown, president of the Springwood Estates Neighborhood Association and CEO of a Zionsville-based motorsports marketing firm, told IBJ in April. “It feels like they’re putting a massive mall in my back yard without addressing traffic. And I don’t think any of us think it’s needed.”

Crowley said the project will be constructed based on market demand, and could take up to 15 years to build. He said the company has flexibility under a land contract with the property owners, the Pittman family, to build as the market dictates. The land is now used for agriculture.

The development is named for the old-style stone bridges the developer plans to construct over landscaped water features set to circumnavigate the site.

The project’s buildings would be prairie-style, designed by the same architects that designed Hamilton Town Center, and surrounded by bike and pedestrian paths.

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  • exactly
    Brandon,thats part of the problem. They DO have a comprehensive plan, and this project does not comply with it. It is not transitional, as described in the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Address Dying Property First
    I'm shocked that the Carmel City Council approved this while Merchant's Square is turning into a ghost town. They are cannibalizing themselves. The more they develop areas like this on the perimeter of Carmel, the worse off it will be for retail tenants in areas like Merchant's Square. Set a 50 year strategic plan for all of Carmel before engaging in projects like this.
    • Traffic Nightmare
      I'm not totally opposed to the project, but traffic at 116th/Spring Mill and also at 116th/Illinois is already a nightmare, even with the roundabouts that were supposed to alleviate traffic woes. Considering the amount of traffic this will generate along with existing office buildings and the hospital, I hope the engineers working on this project can do so with better results.

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    1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

    2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

    3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

    4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

    5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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