What is tipping point for development incentives?

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Downtown Carmel has been transformed over the last decade as the city and its partners invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a bevy of redevelopment projects.

Now some City Council members are saying enough is enough.

As IBJ reported this week, the panel’s land-use committee voted 3-1 to recommend the full council deny Carmel-based Pedcor Cos.’ request to apply for a state tax credit that would help fund a $100 million Midtown redevelopment.

Their rationale: The cash-strapped city simply can’t afford to support additional development.

Pedcor hasn’t asked for financial help with the office-and-residential project, but CEO Bruce Cordingley said the company likely would seek a tax-increment financing deal.

That was enough to turn off committee Chairman Eric Seidensticker, who said the city has spent plenty building a desirable community.

“At some point in time, if we have done our job right, developers should want to come in,” he said.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook has a similar philosophy. Under his leadership, that city is investing $45 million to build the massive Grand Park Sports Complex and expects to sink another $20 million into a new civic plaza downtown.

Such amenities are community assets, Cook said, and the Westfield projects already are drawing developers—without the city offering any additional financial incentives.

So where is the tipping point? Can Carmel maintain redevelopment momentum without dangling TIF funds or tax breaks?

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