Carmel council: No quick decision on City Center funding

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Carmel City Council will take its time considering Pedcor Cos.’ request for public funding for a parking garage and other infrastructure needed to finish the City Center development downtown.

As IBJ reported in print this week, Pedcor has offered an unusual array of financial guarantees to secure the $17 million TIF bond, which the developer wants the city to issue (and back with a possible special benefits tax) to secure the lowest-possible interest rate.

Pedcor CEO Bruce Cordingley has estimated the final phase of development will cost $80 million to $100 million.

Plans call for erecting 10 buildings on about 11 acres on either side of the Monon Greenway, south of City Center Drive, Carmel Redevelopment Commission boss Corrie Meyer told the council Monday.

If the public financing is approved, construction on the parking garage and several mixed-use buildings would begin next year.

On Monday, Meyer walked the council through Pedcor’s plans and the various safeguards, kicking off the two- to three-month review process.

The parking garage is expected to cost close to $14 million, depending on capacity. The final count—somewhere between 470 and 625 spaces—will depend on bond’s final interest rate.

“We do not want to overspend,” Meyer said.

Pedcor wants to use the rest of the money to extend Veterans Way south through the garage and into Carmel’s Civic Square, to improve City Center’s Range Line Road entrance, and to build other public streets and sidewalks—including a so-called Spanish staircase intended to serve as an outdoor gathering space.

The formal bond request is expected to be introduced to council next month, after the CRC and Pedcor finalize a project agreement spelling out who pays for what.

The CRC is proposing to augment the landscaping and streetscaping “as funds become available,” Meyer said, acknowledging the agency’s tight finances.

The city would be responsible for maintaining the streets and sidewalks, and the building owners would chip in to pay for garage operations and maintenance.

Councilors clearly were in fact-finding mode Monday, asking about garage ownership—Pedcor is proposing the city own it—and the impact on property-tax collections, but stopped short of passing judgment on the plan.

“We fully anticipated further dialogue,” Meyer told the council. “That’s why we wanted to start the process now.”

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