Republic Airways and Kite Realty gave the Carmel City Council additional insight Monday into their plans for a $200 million, mixed-use headquarters project along the U.S. 31 corridor.
Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. announced Monday that it plans to move its corporate headquarters from the northwest side of Indianapolis to a planned $200 million mixed-use project at the southeast corner 126th Street and U.S. 31, in Carmel’s Meridian Corporate Corridor.
As planned, the project would bring 1,900 jobs and $150 million in annual wages to Carmel.
“This is, in my time as mayor, the largest single investment of any particular company,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “Based on the projected employee count, it will be Carmel’s largest employer [ahead of KAR Global]. Not by a lot, but it will be our largest.”
If approved, the project would result in the development of Republic’s new aviation training and corporate headquarters, a parking garage, multifamily residential space and commercial space to the southern half of the overall 14-acre property currently occupied by the Hamilton Crossing retail center. The Hampton Inn at the site would also be renovated and expanded to serve the project.
Republic Airways Chief Administrative Officer Matt Koscal said demolition of the retail center at 12201 N. Meridian St. could begin before the year’s end, new construction could start in January, and Republic’s planned flight simulators could be operational by the end of 2022.
“We are a workforce development engine for the aviation industry,” Koscal said. “The one thing a lot of folks don’t realize is, while flying aircraft and maintaining aircraft is our No. 1 operational priority, the next-level activity we’re doing constantly is training.”
Koscal said the equivalent of a 300-person convention would come to the city each night to train and spend money nearby.
“We believe this high-capacity urban environment where there’s retail and other service industries adjacent that allow for that captive audience to direct their dollars into the city of Carmel is critical to optimizing the investment and the opportunities for our employees to have a good training experience, an environment that allows them to be at their best and to optimize their learning environment,” he said.
Koscal described Republic as the second-largest regional airline in the country, with more than 6,000 employees and a fleet of 220 aircraft. This year, the company is planning to conduct more than 1,400 training events. As many as 2,000 are planned for next year.
The project includes a 105,000-square-foot training facility standing three stories tall near U.S. 31. Early designs show windows will display Republic’s 10 simulator training bays, which run 20 hours a day, 360 days a year to offer training for pilots, flight attendants and other employees.
The training facility will be connected to the site’s other facilities, including Republic’s planned 142,000-square-foot corporate headquarters; an 800-space parking garage with commercial space on the ground floor and 94 multifamily units above; and the Hampton hotel, which will be expanded from 109 guest rooms to 272.
“It’s all going to be done in a dense fashion. We’re getting a whole lot of development, roughly $200 million, in a very, very tight 7-acre space,” said Tom McGowan, president of Kite Realty Group Trust, which owns the Hamilton Crossing property and will handle redevelopment.
“We made the determination the highest and best use was not retail. It really became, being the great corridor you have on U.S. 31, this should be a headquarters site,” he said. “Not only one headquarters site, but possibly two on this parcel.”
The 7-acre portion of the site to the north has been slated for additional development beyond the initial $200 million investment, with early plans showing an additional 250,000-square-foot office building, possibly for another aviation-related company’s headquarters, as well as 255,000 square feet of multifamily residential and 1,025 parking spaces.
“We really believe there are other partners in aviation that we would like to work together to attract here, to make Indiana a place for aviation,” Koscal said.
The Carmel City Council is considering a tax-increment financing bond of up to $49.5 million for the project, which is about 8 miles from Republic’s existing headquarters at 8909 Purdue Road on the northwest side of Indianapolis.
“I’m a fan. I’m a big supporter,” council member Jeff Worrell said. “I wish you well as we go through the process. Of course, we’re going to vet this and be careful and make sure we dot our i’s and cross our t’s. This is a big deal, and I want to make sure that it does not go unnoticed just how big of a deal this is. Just for Carmel to be in a position to even entertain it is amazing.”
The project’s incentive proposal will next be reviewed Wednesday at 6 p.m., at the council finance committee meeting.