City Market in the works at Midtown

A city market is being planned in the main level of Merchants Plaza. (Submitted rendering)
A city market is being planned in the main level of Merchants Plaza. (Submitted rendering)

Justin Moffett and his company Old Town Design Group have many big projects in the works. The company is building homes at the old Sunrise golf course along Range Line Road and constructing an innovative nursing home along 126th Street. Old Town is leading a $130-million-plus transformation of Carmel’s Midtown area with multiple new buildings along the Monon Trail.

But one of the most difficult challenges is bringing a “city market” to one of the Midtown buildings. That’s because it’s a totally new experience for this home builder.

“The City Market is the most complicated part of this deal,” Moffett said. “It’s pretty straight-forward to build an office building. This is like a startup. It’s complicated.”

The city market will be on the main level of the new Merchants Plaza and will have 15,000 square feet of retail space designed for roughly 20 vendors. Among the plans for this project are an Indiana-based wine tasting room, a brewery, fresh produce, fresh meat and seafood space and an on-site bakery. The Merchants Plaza building has a construction deadline of spring 2017 to accommodate the bank headquarters moving to the building.

As the project progressed, questions lingered about who would run the market. But planners appear to have come up with a solution.

Moffett has announced that he’s hired Stevi Stoesz, executive director of the Indianapolis City Market, as a consultant to help set up the market. Stoesz recommended an expert named David O’Neil at the Project for Public Spaces to also assist. They’ll work on developing a business plan and advising on the right mix of vendors.

The city market itself will be a city-owned asset in perpetuity which will require approval by the Carmel City Council, which Moffett doesn’t foresee as a problem. He said he doubts the councilors want to run the market, so a nonprofit organization called the Midtown District Association is expected to be created to manage the market. The nonprofit will also manage any public spaces in Midtown, such as plazas that can be used for programming and events, as well as public parking, including spaces in a proposed 1,000-spot parking structure.

“There are some people who are uncertain how this market will work out because it is so complicated,” Moffett said. “But if I don’t know how to do something then you find people who do know how to do it and you bring them in. It’s kind of the theme of my career.”