Carmel Elementary, CCPL projects could spur redevelopment along Main Street

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With renovations and expansions planned in the next few years at the Carmel Clay Public Library and neighboring Carmel Elementary School, city leaders figure it’s a good time to look at options for redeveloping the area as a whole as it leads into Carmel’s Arts & Design District.

“Those things are going on right next to each other, so it’s important there be a discussion between these public entities and the private ones involved to make sure it’s not done in a piecemeal way,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said.

City planners have had discussions with library officials about selling the library’s overflow parking lot, which is along Main Street, to a developer or other entity that could construct a mixed-use building or other project on the highly visible site.

“That (option) has come up as one of many possibilities,” CCPL Director Bob Swanay said. “We’ve looked at every way that we can handle that space, and the only thing we’ve decided is it’s way too early to try to make a decision.”

Library officials recently completed a year-and-a-half long visioning process that concluded that the library needs more space, specifically for programming. Swanay said the parking lot already reaches capacity at times and that a parking garage is a likely solution, although where or when it could be built remains undetermined.

The library expects to soon sign a contract with RATIO architects to look at the results of the visioning process and develop plans for expansion. Then, library officials will know if what’s best for the library lines up with proposed plans to redevelop the area as a whole, Swanay said.

“It’s a good idea to look at the larger area and make sure that we’re not going to be doing things that contrast with each other in a negative way, so it makes all the sense in the world for us to stay in touch and cooperate as much as we can,” Swanay said. 

Carmel Elementary School, which is just south of the library, will be demolished after the 2020-21 school year. The school is proposed to be rebuilt on land south of its existing building, currently home to Wodock Fields. Planners are considering whether a parking solution can be found that would benefit both entities.

“It’s a good idea for all of us to be talking to each other and understand what the other is doing, particularly where it relates to the library and the school,” Swanay said. “We’re two public entities, and if there are ways we can take what we’re both doing and be helpful to the other, then it’s a good idea.”

Carmel Clay Schools spokeswoman Courtney Taylor declined to comment on specifics but stated in an email that CCS is “always open to partner and collaborate with the city to benefit the students and families we serve.”


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