By Sam Elliott
The northwest corner of North Street and Lantern Road in downtown Fishers will become the site for a new, $42.5 million redevelopment project, North of North.
The Fishers City Council approved an economic development agreement June 20 by an 8-1 vote totaling $16.5 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, bonds that will go toward land acquisition, fee waivers, construction of a 500-plus-space parking garage and other project costs.
“We’ve vetted this number pretty thoroughly and our TIF numbers are in a very healthy place, kind of bolstered by our (AAA) bond rating,” Fishers Director of Economic Development Brandon Dickinson said. “While tracking very similarly to the type of project we’ve done at The Depot, The Switch, The Edge, etc., it actually is continuing a trend where the city’s incentives overall are less and less a percentage of the overall project, so we’re trending in the right direction on those.”
The parking garage is one feature of the three-part project, which includes a mixed-use residential and commercial development and a three-story, 30,000-square-foot office building. Consulting engineer and architecture firm RQAW plans to invest $4 million to relocate its headquarters and more than 60 employees from Carmel into 15,000 square feet of the new building while leasing the rest.
“As we grow and develop … what we’ve found is that it’s a very competitive environment to find good engineers and find good architects, so you have to do anything you can to set yourself apart,” RQAW Vice President Troy Woodruff said. “What the City of Fishers has done is create an environment downtown that attracts younger people, that attracts those professionals, so we think that moving here will put us in position to attract the top talent we need to continue to grow.”
Employees from RQAW and Meyer Najem —just north of the project — will utilize the parking garage, as will residents in the mixed-use development. That building will include 240 residential units and 5,000 square feet of commercial space, including 12-16 unique live-work units on the first floor facing Lantern Road.
“These units along Lantern Road will actually have residential units above, but then if you’re an accountant, a lawyer, an artist, whatever, you can go downstairs and your place of business can literally be right downstairs from your home,” Dickinson said. “We thought that was a really interesting aspect of the development we’re looking forward to seeing play out.”
Only City Councilor Richard Block voted against the project, saying he supports what it will bring to downtown Fishers while voicing concerns that the city’s incentive package was too generous.
“But I will tell you that I can’t tell you what level of incentives should be there for this project,” Block said. “My biggest concern is what effect this has on our future capacity to incentivize other projects.”