Out-of-state developer pitches $75M Carmel project

Baltimore-based Atapco Properties is seeking to redevelop 34 acres of land between Carmel City Center and the Meridian Street office corridor, converting a portion of the commercial property to residential use.

The Carmel Plan Commission will begin reviewing the $75 million-plus Carmel Lakeside proposal at its June 18 meeting.

Atapco already owns the property on either side of Carmel Drive east of Guilford Road. It plans to keep the existing Lakeside Corporate Center office building on the northeast corner, adding 280 apartments in 10 buildings on now-vacant land behind it.

Atapco carmel development 15colThe $75 million Atapco development would take shape on either side of Carmel Drive east of Guilford Road. (Atapco Properties)

Later phases of the 10- to 15-year plan call for adding more one- and two-bedroom apartments south of Carmel Drive and replacing the nondescript Carmel Corporate Center—four single-story office buildings erected in the 1980s and ’90s—with a pair of two-story structures.

Eventually, a pair of mixed-use buildings would be added along Guilford, on either end of the existing parking lot. One of them is expected to be a three-story parking garage surrounded by retail and 52 more residential units.

“It’s a big project on a pretty important piece of ground in the Carmel Science & Technology Park,” said Mike Hollibaugh, who oversees Carmel’s planning and zoning department. “Converting potential office uses to dense residential is something the city is going to weigh very carefully.”

Atapco representatives said the project is a response to the hefty investment Carmel and private developers have made in recent years. City Center is about a 10-minute walk away, which should draw residents to the apartments—and vice versa.

“It fortifies uses in the Arts & Design District,” said local attorney Charlie Frankenberger, who is representing the developer.

Atapco does not plan to ask for tax abatements or other public assistance, he said.

The project “represents one of the first large-scale investments … which will be funded entirely by the private sector,” said Jon Dobosiewicz, a land-use planner who works for the Nelson & Frankenberger law firm.

That’s likely to be an advantage since the project, pitched as a planned-unit development, will need the approval of a City Council that seems increasingly reluctant to offer financial support to private development.

Officials also must consider how many apartments the market can support, Hollibaugh said.

Although current demand for apartments in Carmel is strong—the occupancy rate there is about 95 percent, according to data from Tikijian Associates—a number of projects already are in the construction pipeline.

“We’ll see who gets out there and gets them built, and who is late to the game,” said George Tikijian, senior managing director of the apartment brokerage firm. “That’s the big question: How many of these projects can go before there’s too many? I suspect we’re going to find out.”

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