Ever since they were proposed as part of $101 million in new bonds, Carmel City Council members have been receiving a great deal of passionate feedback on a proposed luxury hotel and an antique carousel.
On Sept. 13, the Carmel Finance, Utilities and Rules committee recommended approving the bonds – except for the carousel. The final decision will be made by the city council, which met to discuss the matter Sept. 18. Visit youarecurrent.com for meeting results.
Mayor Jim Brainard still hopes to bring the carousel to Carmel, and he’s open to bringing in private support to help pay for it. Several councilors said they would reconsider the proposal if private funds are involved.
The luxury hotel, which has also been met with disapproval from some residents, would be essentially owned by the city but managed and operated by private companies. The Carmel Redevelopment Commission would help pay construction costs and back up the mortgage loan payments.
Financial consultants attended the meeting to present information on Carmel’s overall financial health and ability to fund the hotel, which they concluded is within Carmel’s means. The financial projections also included Carmel spending approximately $22 million in the coming years to build a new police headquarters, a plan that’s not yet official.
City Councilor Jeff Worrell presented information collected by MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing firm, outlining the hotel’s target client base. The survey indicated that the hotel would fill a niche not available in Carmel.
“The goal is to make it something that doesn’t currently exist in the marketplace, an experiential boutique,” Worrell said of the survey results. “There is no competition in that space in Carmel.”
Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said the hotel has been in the plans for City Center from its earliest days of development and that the hotel concept is among the most studied proposals he’s seen during his time on the council.
“This isn’t a new idea. This isn’t something that was randomly thrown at us,” he said. “If we don’t end up with a unique hotel at City Center, I think it would be a missing piece of the puzzle in the long-term project.”