Commission approves $396K design contract for Palladium plaza

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The Carmel Redevelopment Commission has extended its contract with an Indianapolis landscape architectural firm to complete design work for the public plaza proposed for the area in front of the Palladium that would include a skating rink and holiday marketplace in the winter.

Mayor Jim Brainard announced plans for the Center Green plaza during his State of the City address earlier this month. In the winter months, it would be transformed into a Christkindle Market where visitors could skate, shop for crafts, eat and watch entertainers. For warm-weather months, the city envisions an open, hardscape plaza with a decorative grid system.Center Green skating rink - rendering

The space currently is used for farmer’s markets in warmer months. The proposed enhancements to the plaza will let the city utilize the space year-round, Brainard said.

The CRC last week approved a $396,500 contract with landscape architectural firm Rundell Ernstberger Associates to create final designs for the project, including the hardscape design for warm months and the ice rink and adjacent huts for the winter market. The firm already had been working with the city on the conceptual designs.

The total project is estimated to cost slightly more than $5 million, including the $396,000 design contract. About $1 million is expected to be paid for through bonds and the rest would be covered by tax increment finance revenue.

“We’re hoping that we can get the design done and do construction and have this ice rink open” in winter of 2017-18, CRC executive director Corrie Meyer said.

Meyer did not have capacity figures for the ice rink, but said it will be the same size as an Olympic ice skating rink.

The contract was included in the CRC’s 2017 budget, which was also approved last week.

The CRC estimates it will collect $22.6 million in tax increment financing revenue next year, and pay $20.8 million for existing debt. The commission is expected to start the year with $2.5 million and have $4.4 million in reserves at the end of 2017.

CRC member and City Council member Jeff Worrell voted in favor of the contract, but encouraged Meyer to find a better way for ice rink users to access bathroom facilities. The current plan would require visitors to remove their skates and use the restrooms in the James Building.

Worrell suggested having a padded floor or another entrance to the restrooms.

“I understand we don’t want a whole separate facility,” Worrell said.

The project is the latest investment by the city in the area surrounding the Palladium. Earlier this year, the CRC completed a $1.63 million landscaping project on the south and west sides of the venue.

Brainard said the ice rink and winter market had always been envisioned for the campus. Initially the city wanted to use the reflecting pool for the ice rink, but ultimately decided it wasn’t feasible.

He has described the proposed plaza as the “living room to the community.”

“It could be a really neat place,” Brainard said.

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