10 things to expect in the northern suburbs in 2016

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We revisited the year’s top news stories in the suburbs on Wednesday, so now let’s look at what you should expect to see in 2016.

Here is a list of 10 things to watch for, in no particular order.

1. Road construction will be everywhere

You’re probably thinking, how is this possible? U.S. 31 is finally nearing an end. That’s true. But in 2016, the orange cones will just be moving to other locations.

Multiple projects involving Interstate 69 will be started next year, including adding an interchange at 106th Street, widening and reconfiguring 116th Street near the interstate, and adding another travel lane in both directions on the highway from the 116th Street exit in Fishers to State Road 38 near Pendleton in Madison County.

Those projects total to $125 million and are all scheduled to start in the spring.

In Carmel, the city announced Dec. 22 plans to spend $217 million on a long list of infrastructure projects. No timeline was provided, but construction is expected over the next three years. The longtime congested intersection of Keystone Avenue and 96th Street is among the projects included as well as about 30 other new roundabouts.

Also, just so no one is curious why it’s not on this list, State Road 37 improvements aren’t slated to begin for another two or three years so check for that on the 2017 or 2018 look-ahead blog post.

2. New leadership

The 2015 election season went well for soon-to-be six-term Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. Three of his four known opponents on the Carmel City Council lost their seats. Jeff Worrell, Bruce Kimball and Laura Campbell will replace Luci Snyder, Eric Seidensticker and Rick Sharp, respectively.

The new council is expected to be more supportive of the mayor’s initiatives, and many are expecting Brainard to take advantage of that. He has already said he will loosen the reigns on the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and the resolutions and ordinances needed for the financing of the proposed infrastructure projects are on the agenda for the first meeting of the year.

Some have also speculated that Brainard will deplete the city’s rainy day fund. 

3. Land up for grabs

Earlier this year, the city of Fishers and the Indianapolis Airport Authority agreed to work together to spur development and private investments on between 200 and 300 acres of land at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport. The land has been deemed unnecessary for aviation purposes.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said he hopes to have request for proposals issued in early 2016 and a project could get started before the end of next year. 

4. Ikea ripple effect

The other area to watch for development announcements in Fishers is within Exit Five Corporate Park. Ikea will open there in 2017, and the furniture retailer typically draws other businesses.

An official with Sunbeam Development Corp., which owns the surrounding property, said an announcement could come by May. 

5. Busy side of Noblesville

The west side of the White River in Noblesville should also see some changes in 2016. Federal Hill Commons is under construction, BlueSky Technology Partners Inc. will be building its new headquarters and all eyes are still on Riverview Health Hospital and what the Hamilton County-owned organization will do with its property.

6. Next grand idea

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said last year that $25 million Grand Junction Plaza would get started, but that hasn’t happened yet. Next year seems promising though. The designer of the project is scheduled to present final plans for the urban park to the public Jan. 7. 

7. Welcome to Westfield

Construction on several projects near the high profile U.S. 31 and State Road 32 intersection should start in 2016 too, including the new Riverview Health medical facility near the northeast corner and a project on the southwest corner including a four-story hotel, medical office, free-standing restaurant and two retail buildings. The area is considered a gateway into Westfield.

8. Another gateway

Speaking of prominent intersections, the southwest corner of Sycamore and Main streets in Zionsville should see movement. The town spent time in 2015 finalizing exactly what it wants to see on the corner, which formerly housed PNC Bank.

9. New home for the town

Also in Zionsville, town officials are expected to make a final decision about the future of its town hall. The 6.85-acre property has already been rezoned to allow the town to construct a new building and offer the remaining land for development, but a financing plan has not been determined. The Zionsville Town Council is scheduled to discuss financing options Jan. 21. 

10. Push for transit

Hamilton County leaders have already started outreach meetings with the community regarding a countywide mass transportation system and that will likely increase in 2016. Officials are preparing for the possibility of a voter referendum on November ballots and are trying to educate the public about the proposed system and why it’s needed. 

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