Republic Development Corp. and J.C. Hart Co. have signed a $4.55 million purchase agreement with Hamilton County officials that calls for a $50 million mixed-use real estate project on a parking lot in downtown Noblesville.
The Hamilton County Public Building Corp. agreed in early August to sell its 2.5-acre employee parking lot, just south of Conner Street on the east bank of the White River, to Toledo-based Republic and Carmel-based J.C. Hart
The developers did not respond to requests for comment on the project, but the agreement calls for replacing the 200-space parking lot and adjacent McMillan’s Auto Care & Towing at 599 Conner St. with a 226-unit apartment building that contains 6,500 square feet of retail space and a 350-space parking garage.
“Since 2013, we have been approached numerous times by several developers wanting to develop that property,” Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said. “(Republic) approached us probably two years ago, and through continuous discussions, we kind of came to an agreement on what that might be.”
The purchase agreement outlines several contingencies, including the approval of a $10.5 million incentive package from the city of Noblesville. Those incentives, if approved, could take the form of tax increment financing or lease rental payment bonds.
Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said a mixed-use project makes sense on the site, but nothing about the plan has been set in stone. He declined to comment on the specifics outlined in the county’s agreement until the city has its own contract with Republic.
“We know folks are interested in our community, and we know we have a gap in more-affordable options in the downtown to fill,” Jensen said. “Noblesville is ripe for development, but it has to make sense for the city of Noblesville and the taxpayers of Noblesville.”
Jensen said the city will likely make an announcement regarding the project later this year.
“Any project we do—especially in the downtown—takes on extra scrutiny because of the historic significance of the downtown,” Jensen said.
The development also runs parallel to Hamilton County’s plans for a new garage on another employee parking lot on the southern half of the block bounded by 8th, 9th, Clinton and Wayne streets.
In October, the county issued a request for proposals for the garage, and has since hired Fishers-based RQAW as designer and Indianapolis-based Garmong Construction as the construction manager. The proceeds from the Conner Street lot’s sale are slated to pay for part of that $9.5 million garage’s construction.
Heirbrandt said county commissioners and council members are currently going over designs for the garage, and he’s hoping construction will start early next year.
“Even though I’m sure the city will involve us quite a bit in how the city and project might look, it’s really going to be theirs to determine what they want to do with that piece of property and how it’s developed,” Heirbrandt said.
Heirbrandt said transitioning employees from the Conner Street lot to a garage clears the way for the roughly 3-acre property to start generating taxes. Michael Howard, attorney for Hamilton County, told the Hamilton County Council during an Aug. 5 meeting that the project will generate $750,000 to $800,000 per year in property taxes.
“We see it as kind of a win-win, because we get what we need for future growth here at the county and a safer environment for our employees to get to work,” Heirbrandt said. “Also, the economic development piece of this and the taxes achieved by this are going to be significant.”