New Beazer subdivision could threaten 1830s-era home in Carmel

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Beazer Homes Indiana is proposing a new subdivision in northeast Carmel where 80 percent of the homeowners must be 55 years or older. But some Carmel history lovers are wondering why a historic home built in 1834 isn’t preserved in the plans.

ABOUT THE SUBDIVISION

The 59-acre parcel is northeast of the 136th Street and Keystone Parkway roundabout would be called The Reserve at Cool Creek. Currently 164 homes are planned, with the 61 villa homes — each with two dwellings per villa similar to a duplex — and 42 ranch homes. The density is 2.9 homes per acre, which is only slightly higher than the current zoning of 2.76 homes per acre. Nearly 40 percent of the site is dedicated to common areas.

Access will be through a main entrance off of 136th Street, and four entrances have been proposed at Smokey Ridge Trail, Smokey Ridge Lane, Matt Street and Millgate/Laura Vista.

City Councilor Sue Finkam said with an age-restricted community that generates a below average number of trips and five access points, traffic impact into adjacent neighborhoods will be minimal.

City Councilor Bruce Kimball said the project should be headed to the Carmel Plan Commission soon, and he expects some remonstrance since the homes might cost less than $300,000 and some neighboring residents think it could impact their property values.

“We really have a need for affordable housing in Carmel, especially for empty nester homes,” he said. “I believe these homes will still be very high quality and will add to the community.”

ABOUT THE HISTORIC HOME

The home at 2724 E. 136th Street is built on land that was originally deeded to William Wilkinson in 1822. He died before building on the land, and Silas Moffitt, a member of one of Carmel’s first families, ended up owning the land. His son, David, built a two-story log cabin in 1834. After getting married, he added a brick Georgian-style addition in 1853. The land and structures changed ownership and were passed down from generation to generation. The last person to live in the house, Hank Hull, passed away in 2014. He was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret, and the land went to his nephews and nieces in Colorado.

The plans submitted to the Plan Commission make no mention of preserving the Hull House.

“The house is not listed on the city’s list of historic homes, so when the plans were designed, it was with the understanding that the current home would be torn down,” Finkam said. “Since that time, just prior to the filing, the Carmel Historical Preservation Commission reached out to the developer about preserving the home. It is my understanding that the developer is discussing options regarding this home.”

Emily Ehrgott, executive director of the Carmel Clay Historical Society, said this house is worth saving because it’s one of the few homes left from the 1800s in Carmel. Ehrgott herself bought and fixed up the historic McShane House, where she lives with her husband and kids along Range Line Road.

“I have not been inside, but it looked in much better condition than (my) house was,” she said. “The biggest issue in that house is the masonry outside. I’d be one of the first ones to say if it was too far gone. If it costs a million dollars to fix it up, then I understand that. But often it’s not too far gone. I think it can be done. They just have to decide if they want to do it. If the City of Carmel wants to put their money where their mouth is, then save this house. This is one of a few houses left like it.”

Kimball said he’s unsure of the condition, but he said if it’s possible he’d supporting preserving the historic home.

“We will have to look at it, but it could work as a clubhouse,” he said. “It’s still really early on, but we should look to see if there’s a way to preserve this house.”

Finkam said she’s not sure what will happen to the home.

“I had a chance to tour the home,” she said. “It’s in a beautiful location, but the house itself appears to be in terrible condition. I don’t know anything about structural engineering, but I wonder if it can be salvaged. Given the interior layout of the home, I can’t see it being used as a clubhouse or anything without significant alteration. Perhaps it can be moved, but I’m not sure if the structure could withstand a move. I look forward to discussions between the owner, developer and CHPC to see what next steps may emerge once the house and options are examined.”

Ehrgott said that someone lived in it recently, so it can’t be in horrible shape. She hopes that local businesses, city officials and the developer will exhaust the options before giving up on this piece of history.

“The plan doesn’t really appear to save this house,” she said. “I would think that a 55-and-older neighborhood would appreciate this historic home.”

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