New Carmel City Council hits pause on pair of major projects

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Indianapolis-based Buckingham Properties LLC is looking to build the $300 million Gramercy/Carmel Marketplace project between East 126th Street and East Carmel Drive, west of Keystone Parkway.

The Carmel City Council on Monday put two major redevelopment projects on hold so they can be reviewed by the city’s new mayor.

The projects called Gramercy/Carmel Marketplace and Valentina were originally introduced to the city council in November. At that time, council members voted to delay discussion on the projects until Monday’s meeting due to the size of the developments and because construction would take up to a decade.

However, the new city council decided to withdraw two ordinances authorizing a total of $76 million in bonds for the projects from the agenda to give Mayor Sue Finkam’s administration more time to study plans, consider feedback from residents and negotiate with developers.

“When it came to the old council and the previous mayor, it was under expectations set by the prior administration and didn’t necessarily reflect the expectations of the new administration,” City Council President Tony Green said. (Green was elected president of the city council on Monday.)

Green added that he thought it would be best to remove the two projects from upcoming agendas because it could take two to four months to review the projects. He said it would not be fair to residents who might want to speak about the projects but not know if they would be discussed at a meeting.

Indianapolis-based Buckingham Properties LLC is looking to redevelop areas between East 126th Street and East Carmel Drive, west of Keystone Parkway, for the Gramercy/Carmel Marketplace project. It would include redeveloping the existing Gramercy apartment complex and Carmel Marketplace retail center.

Under the original plan, the $300 million project would be built in four phases through 2030. Plans for the project include 191 for-sale townhouses and condominiums, 850 apartments, 28,000 square feet of retail space, a 650-space public parking garage, art, a public plaza and a solar component. Four of the many existing Gramercy apartment buildings would be spared and renovated.

The project would also involve extending Kinzer Avenue south to Carmel Drive and adding a roundabout at Carmel Drive. Buckingham is asking the city to issue up to $53 million in developer-backed bonds for the project.

The $150 million Valentina project would be built at the northeast corner of Gradle Drive and 3rd Avenue Southwest. (Rendering courtesy city of Carmel)

Indianapolis-based Keystone Group wants to redevelop a 5.5-acre property at the northeast corner of Gradle Drive and 3rd Avenue Southwest.

The $150 million Valentina project would have 380 apartment units, 17 for-sale townhouses located along the Monon Greenway, 50,000-square-feet of office and retail space, a 600-space public parking garage, art and a solar component.

Keystone asked the city to issue up to $23 million in developer-backed bonds.

City Council member Jeff Worrell said it is possible one or both of the projects might not come back to the council if the city and the developers cannot come to an agreement on plans for Gramercy/Carmel Marketplace and Valentina.

“There are some things that we may want that may make the projects impossible, so I think it is relevant to keep that in mind that what we want may not be something that makes the project work,” Worrell said.

Residents who oppose the two projects spoke at Monday’s meeting and expressed their concerns about traffic, a lack of housing affordable for seniors, loss of trees and the impact of the projects on the environment.

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