Ohio-based Epcon Communities proposes age-restricted Courtyards of Carmel

Previously approved plans for a 165-unit residential development at the northeast corner of Keystone Parkway and 136th Street have been shelved, and a new developer’s plan for the site is facing stiff opposition from neighbors.

Ohio-based Epcon Communities has proposed 169 single-family homes be built on the 59-acre site near Carmel High School. Construction of the development, most of which would be restricted to buyers age 55 and up, could start next spring if the city gives its approval.

A previous plan for the parcel by Old Town Companies LLC won city approval in March 2019 after the developer scaled back the number of housing units from 240 to 200 and then to 165. It’s not clear why Old Town didn’t proceed with its plans. The developer didn’t return calls seeking comment and Epcon wouldn’t say why the Old Town plan fell through.

Beazer Homes of Indiana LLP filed plans in 2017 to build a 157-home, age-restricted community called the Reserve at Cool Creek, but it withdrew the proposal in early 2018.

Epcon has several communities in the state, including Indianapolis’ Stonebridge neighborhood, the Courtyards of Zionsville and Heather Glen at the Legends in Franklin.

“We’ve been looking for the past year-and-a-half at opportunities in this market,” Jason Coffee, Epcon’s vice president of land development, said. “Carmel is kind of the place to be. It’s in high demand and we thought, if we wanted to make a statement, this was the place to do it.”

Aside from 80% of the development being age restricted, the Courtyards of Carmel also differs from Old Town’s proposal in that it will be entirely single-story houses. It will not feature the multi-family town houses Old Town previously proposed.

The development could also feature 2.5 miles of trails, a clubhouse, pool, fitness facility, a place to launch paddle boats, pickle ball courts, a bocce ball area and community gardens. Houses are expected to sell for between $375,000 and $575,000.

Additionally, Epcon has committed to donating a historic building on the property to the Indianapolis-based historic preservation not-for-profit Indiana Landmarks. The building was first erected as a two-story, log cabin in 1834 and has been enlarged several times over the years. According to city documents, the residence is one of the oldest buildings in Carmel.

Neighbors of the Epcon site are raising some of the same objections they did previously. Residents pulled together a petition against the Courtyards of Carmel with more than 600 signatures, and the more than 70 letters residents sent to council were largely opposed to its development.

Their primary concern was an initial plan to connect the neighborhood directly to 136th Street’s double roundabout, which crosses Keystone Parkway. The developer has since moved the entrance and exit east of the roundabout, but many residents worry the traffic will only worsen an intersection already burdened by traffic generated by Carmel High School.

“They’re a little skeptical regardless of what the answer is,” Coffee said. “The age restriction, from our perspective, helps with any traffic issue because our folks don’t have to go during peak traffic times. What you see is typically the traffic is about half of a traditional single-family home community.”

Nearby residents also criticized the project’s architecture, proximity to an existing neighborhood and its proposed connection with Smokey Ridge Trail.

The project will be reviewed by the Carmel Plan Commission’s residential committee at 6 pm on August 4.

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