Carmel council agrees to fund $11.5M garage with income tax distributions

The Carmel City Council voted Monday to spend $11.5 million of the city’s local income tax distributions on a new 296-space garage at Monon Green Boulevard and Veterans Way.

The amount approved at Monday’s council meeting is larger than the $8 million originally proposed for a garage, which is expected to serve the Carmel City Court, new police station, area businesses and the forthcoming Melange condominium project.

Council member Jeff Worrell said the added cost was due to higher-than-expected bids. The council voted 5-3 in favor of the bond, with council members Tim Hannon, Laura Campbell and Tony Green opposed.

Hannon said he opposed the bond for several reasons, and suggested the council consider using tax increment finance dollars generated by new projects rather than income tax revenues.

“The approximate cause of needing parking in this area is because of the Melange project that tipped this forward, therefore, [tax increment finance] funds should be the most appropriate way to be able to fund it, whether that be in whole or part,” he said.

As proposed, the new garage would replace a 69-space parking lot at the southeast corner of Monon Green Boulevard and Veterans Way that’s used by several businesses in the Carmel City Center.

Deborah Boyer, owner of both Cornerstone Dentistry and the 20,000-square-foot building at 912 S. Range Line Road., said she first moved her practice to that area for its parking. She said the construction on the nearby Melange has already cost her tenants.

Henry Mestetsky, the city’s economic development director, said a study found peak demand for the city’s courthouse and expanded police station will require 137 spots. He said the garage will be able to handle that demand, replace the 69 lost spaces and accommodate condo tenants.

Mestetsky said construction on the garage will begin in September and is expected to be finished before demolition of the former Huntington Bank makes way for the new police station to be built.

Hannon also said that another planned garage in the area could help alleviate parking demand, and that a smaller footprint might help preserve the city’s walkability.

“I’m all about us being a walkable and bikeable community, but I don’t want to build that walkable and bikeable culture on the backs of our businesses by not providing them enough parking in the current times,” council member Kevin Rider said.

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