Hamilton County Tourism Inc. is searching for new office space, which could put a highly visible piece of property in Carmel on the market.
The agency is currently located in a 4,500-square-foot, three-level townhome it owns at 37 E. Main St., near the Rangeline Road intersection in Carmel, across the street from Woodys Library Restaurant.
It also leases about 500 square feet in an adjacent townhome, and affiliated organization Hamilton County Economic Development Corp. leases about 1,000 square feet of adjacent space. All of the townhomes are connected by interior hallways.
The organization moved to Carmel in 2006, after 10 years of being located in the Fishers Train Station on 116th Street near Interstate 69.
Hamilton County established the organization in 1989, and in 1991 it opened an office in the Adler Building in downtown Noblesville.
“When I first started working for tourism, I worked in a closet,” said Karen Radcliff, Hamilton County Tourism’s vice president and chief strategy officer. “And I shared that closet with two other people.”
The agency has 21 employees now. Radcliff said they’ve become cramped in their existing space in Carmel, and the tight quarters will only worsen as they plan to add an extra staff member every year for the next 10 years.
The additional staff members would most likely be used to expand the group’s efforts to attract meetings and conventions, as well as performing arts events like traveling shows that could rent the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
“Could we tap into that market to see what’s there?” Radcliff said. “We really don’t have anyone on staff to do that yet.”
She estimated they’d need about 10,000 square feet of space in their new office. Hamilton County Economic Development would likely relocate with the tourism agency.
Radcliff said they looked at whether they could knock out walls in their existing office or buy more space in the units surrounding their office, but none of those options worked.
“We found that we can’t really use this space to do what we want to do,” Radcliff said.
The goal is to find space that could be part of a project that would help community development, Radcliff said.
And the group is open to suggestions. It recently issued a request for ideas and sent it to all of the Hamilton County cities and various local developers.
“We actually have gotten four or five different groups that were interested in having that conversation with us,” Radcliff said.
New office space could be finalized next year, and the group could move in 2018.
Radcliff said they would like to sell their current space and use those proceeds toward the new office, but that decision has not been finalized.
Because the organization represents—and promotes—the entire county, Radcliff said it can be tricky to pick only one city as home base.
“Honestly, it’d be great if we could divide ourselves in four or five ways,” Radcliff said. “Being a countywide organization, we’re very sensitive to that fact.”