By Robert Annis
Grain Elevator Goes Down
Carmel turned 175 years old in 2012, but one of its most famous landmarks didn’t make it to the end of the year.
Despite a sizable public outcry, the city’s century-old grain elevator was demolished in April to make way for a new development straddling the Monon Greenway.
Local photographer Ron Kern hoped the vacant, city-owned grain elevator could be spared and remodeled as a performance venue and artists’ studios, but city officials decided a more shovel-ready site would be more appealing to potential developers.
“The city and the Carmel Redevelopment Commission have found more positive results from private sector investment when sites are ready for redevelopment,” city spokeswoman Nancy Heck told the Current last month.
After the demolition, the rubble remained on site until experts were able to determine that trace amounts of pesticide permeating the debris were not hazardous.
The city paid $145,000 for the demolition. In the grain elevator’s place will be a new mixed-use community called Midtown, which is still awaiting a developer.
Expectations for 2013? The city will likely be looking for a developer for the property, but with the economy still struggling, don’t look for Midtown to take flight any time soon.
PAC gets new leader
Nearly a year after former Center for the Performing Arts CEO Steven Libman resigned in disgrace, Carmel officials chose his replacement.
Tania Castroverde Moskalenko was named to her new post in June; Frank Basile had been serving as interim director.
Moskalenko earned her new job after a successful tenure at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre in Tennessee, where she inherited an operating deficit of $500,000 and transformed it into a $300,000 surplus within seven years. Not only was she able to pull that off without cutting staff, she also tripled programming at the 824-seat theatre, doubled its corporate support, quadrupled grant support and developed two individual giving programs.
Outlook for 2013? City officials are hoping for a repeat performance at the Palladium, which received about $6 million from the city in 2012. Mayor Jim Brainard hopes to reduce the city subsidy to $2 million or less in coming years, but that’s not likely to happen this year.
For years, critics complained about the free-spending ways of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. In 2012, those days came to an abrupt end.
A cash-poor CRC asked the city council to refinance nearly $200 million in debt, which they’d borrowed between 6-percent to 9-percent interest. After much deliberation, the council agreed in late November. Had the council not agreed to the refinancing plan, the CRC would not have had the money to pay their debts, claimed city councilor Luci Snyder.
Despite early indications he would resign under pressure from Snyder and council president Rick Sharp, CRC member Jeff Worrell remains on the commission.
The new bonds sold last month between 2.65 and 4 percent, saving about $75 million, according to Heck.
Outlook for 2013? As part of the arrangement, the city council will have much more oversight of the CRC, which now must seek council approval before incurring any debt. Many of the CRC employees are now city employees in the new Carmel Redevelopment Authority.