Merchants' Square stores coming down to make way for Flix Brewhouse

October 25, 2013
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Carmel’s Merchants’ Square shopping center will be getting a mini makeover thanks to coming attraction Flix Brewhouse.

As IBJ reported in August, the Texas-based company plans to open a combination movie theater-microbrewery next year in the troubled shopping center at 116th Street and Keystone Parkway.

Flix is slated to occupy almost 40,000 square feet in space that used to house a Hobby Lobby store, offering seating for about 1,000.

But there’s not enough parking at Merchants’ Square to meet city requirements, so landlord Ramco-Gershenson Inc. is seeking a zoning variance to allow fewer spaces.

As-is, the 359,000-square-foot shopping center should have 1,960 spaces based on its mix of retail and restaurant tenants; it’s almost 500 spaces short. The requirements increase with the addition of a theater.

Michigan-based Ramco-Gershenson plans to add 61 spaces by demolishing a vacant Old Navy store—now occupied by short-term tenant Halloween City—along with a small retail space next door and about 10,000 square feet of the Hobby Lobby space.

Even after the changes, the center will be about 600 spaces short.

Parking has not been an issue at Merchants’ Square, given abundant vacancies in recent years. Built in 1970 as a Target-anchored, enclosed mall, it was redeveloped into an open-air center in the mid-1990s.

Flix should be a welcome addition when it opens next year. Plans call for eight screens, seat-side dining and an on-site microbrewery. The lobby/bar will be open to the public, no movie tickets required.

In its application for the variance, Ramco-Gershenson said that Flix conducted “extensive analysis,” and expects about 711 customers during its busiest period—from 6  p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays—and shouldn’t need more than 325 parking spaces to accommodate them. (The city’s zoning ordinance would require 500 spots.) And Flix is willing to offer valet parking if things get tight.

“We believe the new site plan will provide sufficient parking” for Flix and the existing retail shop,” project manager Ross S. Gallentine wrote. “We are very excited about the redevelopment and what it would mean for Merchants’ Square, the city of Carmel and the entire community.”

Carmel’s Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to consider the request at its Oct. 29 meeting.

  • Can't wait for this
    The formerly bustling Merchants Square had been almost a "ghost town" since the Keystone Parkway construction work and competition from Clay Terrace and the Fashion Mall caused the anchor stores and other small businesses to close. This will be a most welcome addition and should revitalize the complex. Let the work begin!
  • Say what?
    How can this location not have enough parking, yet the Kite plaza with Piada and Earth Fare and Panera has enough? That place is packed constantly and has a fraction of the spots as Merchant Square. Someone must not be on the Mayor's good side.....
    • Yea! Make over for Merchants Sq
      I am so glad someone is going to move into this space, it is terrible to see empty store fronts. Having the movie theater/brew house will be a GREAT addition to the area- such a great concept. The only one left in the area is the one at 86th and Ditch. Excited for the opening!
      • Right!
        Totally agree - that Kite center DOES NOT have enough parking. What a mess!
      • Woo Hoo!
        Love it! What a great addition to the area. Anything to add some entertainment options and bring life to the mall.
      • Parking
        I believe the Kite center got a variance. And it does have valet parking, too.
      • Correction to Karen's post
        Correction: Cinema Grill that was formerly at 86th & Ditch has been closed for some time. And the new Studio Movie Grill just reopened in the former Loews theater at 86th & Michigan. The addition of this theater/restaurant to Merchants Square should be wonderful!
      • Great Idea/Bad idea
        It is great that this new use will help bring people back to this shopping center. What a waste of an existing building to tear them down to add a few parking spaces. We can only hope this is busy enough to use the existing paces. Keep the buildings, give them the variance.
      • Great concept
        This is great, hard to draw new retail here given the odd layout and new retail spots elsewhere in Carmel that didn't exist when Merchants Square built. World Market seems to be the only store in there now that draws people.
      • Parking
        The City of Carmel provides parking for the Arts and Design District as well for the shopping center and apartments at 126th and Rangeline. Why wouldn't the city of Carmel step up at this location and do the same thing
      • Parking
        Parking is bad enough in Kite center, wait until giant Walgreens opens w/drive through. Don't know how they figured there would be enough parking for new grocery store, 3-4 restaurants etc.
      • Welcome to Carmelton
        It's no surprise that Merchant's Square has struggled. The Plan Commission clearly gives no thought to the welfare of existing retailers as in its rush to build, build, build. Carmel is turning into Castleton..

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