High-profile Carmel property draws just one bid

Flaherty & Collins Properties was the only developer to bid on the former Party Time Rental site on Range Line Road in Carmel, offering $4.35 million for the city-owned property.

Carmel Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Les Olds opened the bid at a public meeting Wednesday evening, but he declined to share details of the proposal pending a review by commission staff and attorneys.

Company officials were not available Thursday morning to provide an overview of the plans.

The Indianapolis-based developer had proposed building more than 400 luxury apartments on the high-profile parcel in 2011, but that effort stalled because of questions over the city’s ownership stake in the property.

City Council members agreed to rezone the land to allow residential and retail uses in March after the CRC became its sole owner. Including legal fees and taxes, it spent about $4 million to acquire the site, which includes seven acres of land and a 50,000-square-foot warehouse-like building.

A request for proposals issued last month asked would-be buyers to pitch plans for a three-story (or taller) mixed-use building featuring first-floor retail and plenty of parking. Designs were to be consistent with other recent development in the City Center district downtown.

The site at Range Line and Carmel Drive is more than a half mile from City Center Drive and the Center for the Performing Arts, but it’s seen as a gateway to the tony area.

The minimum asking price: $4.35 million.

Bidders were allowed to ask for financial assistance to pull off the project, but the CRC made it clear it’s not promising anything.

“Preference will be given to redevelopment proposals that limit the CRC contribution to streetscape work,” the RFP said.

If possible, the commission also wanted proposals to incorporate adjacent parcels at 1132 S. Range Line Road and 1224 S. Range Line Road, which are privately owned.

The CRC hopes to close on the sale by Sept. 1 and have construction begin by Jan. 1.

It remains to be seen whether the city will accept Flaherty & Collins’ proposal or go back to the drawing board.

CRC President Bill Hammer said redeveloping the Party Time site is “priority 1A,” second only to building out the remainder of the sprawling City Center project.

That makes sense, given its location at a bustling corner in the growing city. So why weren’t more developers interested in the property?

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