Is Carmel's Midtown delay necessary or NIMBY?

April 18, 2013
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Carmel city councilors say their refusal to rubber stamp a state tax credit application paving the way for a $100 million redevelopment project downtown is the result of fiscal caution, not a rejection of low-income housing in the affluent suburb.

“City Council is concerned about the budget,” said Finance Committee Chairwoman Luci Snyder. “Things are a little tight.”

Developer Pedcor Cos. hasn’t asked for financial support for the so-called Midtown project on former industrial land near the Monon Trail, but councilors suspect that plea will come eventually. And that has them treading carefully now.

The city bailed out the Carmel Redevelopment Commission last year, taking on $184 million in debt when the agency had trouble making payments.

“I remain concerned about the state of TIF revenue versus debt service,” council President Rick Sharp said Monday after the panel sent the tax-credit request to the Land Use, Annexation and Economic Development Committee for review. “I would prefer that future development be driven by the market, not the ability to get financing.”

Councilors also were irked that they were asked to OK the application before they had been briefed on development plans. They also were concerned about a persistent rumor—dispelled by Pedcor CEO Bruce Cordingley on Wednesday—that the development would include affordable housing, something members said would do little to spur economic development in the area.

“Whether we like or don’t like low-income housing is not the issue,” said council member Eric Seidensticker. “The question is whether we put low-income housing there. We want to maximize the land in terms of the highest and best use. … It becomes a business decision.”

The Midtown area is between Carmel City Center and Main Street, where the city and private developers have invested hundreds of millions of dollars already. Future projects need to support what’s already there, councilors said.

Still, some observers interpreted the council's concerns as an indication that low-income renters are not welcome in Carmel. Seidensticker disputed that criticism, saying locally based Herman & Kittle Properties' Meridian Flats project has an affordable-housing project in the works for Old Meridian and Main streets.

What’s your take on the controversy?

  • Heaven forbid...
    ...that any of the low-to-moderate income service workers in "downtown Carmel" should be encouraged to live there and walk or bike to work. They should ride the bus! Oh, wait...
  • Whats wrong with Nimby?
    I often wonder, why the term "NIMBY" is used in such a derogatory way. After all, if people don't watch out whats in their back yard, who will? Thats been proven time and time again in the Carmel area.
      NIMBY refers to the mentality of someone who wants the benefits of living in society, but does not want to accept any of the responsibilities/perceived burdens. Taking care of your neighborhood is one thing, but pushing out everything that is necessary, but may not fit into your ideal of a perfect place, just so that someone else can deal with it is neither fair, responsible, or ultimately beneficial for either the community or society at large. It is important to note that there are no plans to build low-income housing, nor would the TIF designation suddenly allow such housing to be built. TIFs have nothing to do with zoning or permit review. That said, Carmel needs affordable housing just like any other community. Even the very conservative and upscale city of Irvine, CA has long recognized that a bunch of expensive homes sitting in isolation does not create a self-sustaining community. Who is going to work in the restaurants, stores, etc? Since 1970 Irvine has had an affordable housing mandate, where a certain percentage of residences need to be affordable, and this policy was put in place long before so-called "progressive" places like San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, etc. enacted similar policies. Similarly, Carmel needs to ensure that some of the housing built in the community is safe and adequate housing for the working families who support the businesses that serve the community. You cannot have the benefit of having people serving you and then not provide options for them to buy or rent a place reasonably close to where they work.

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