Needler’s Fresh Market recently announced it intends to fill a vacancy left by O’Malia Food Market at Brookshire Village Shoppes, but Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said it will only happen if the city provides a financial incentive.
Brainard said the grocer’s new store at 126th Street and Gray Road is dependent on the city creating a tax increment financing district for the shopping center and using the increase in tax revenue generated by improvements at the site to help pay for those upgrades.
“The center sold for a lot of money. We want to get a nice facelift on it,” Brainard said. “That was what was negotiated. That’s not an unusual situation for an aging strip center.”
But it is a bit unusual for Carmel. Brainard and other Carmel officials have been frequent critics of strip centers, frequently pointing out how multi-story mixed-use developments enhance quality of life and generate more tax dollars than a single-story building with a sprawling parking lot.
The city purchased two aging strip centers — Mohawk Landing and Monon Square — near Range Line Road and City Center Drive in recent years that will be demolished and replaced with mixed-use buildings.
Brainard said Brookshire Village Shoppes is different.
“It’s not a strip mall on a big highway. It’s a neighborhood center, and those are very important to create a walkable city by cutting down on automobile trips, cutting down on congestion and allowing people to be healthier because there’s actually a place in their neighborhood they can walk to,” he said.
The building, constructed in the 1970s, would not likely be approved to be built in Carmel today, Brainard said, adding that it would probably be developed as mixed-use.
KennMar bought the shopping center for $6.4 million in September 2019. Officials from KennMar and Needler’s did not respond to requests for comment.
The TIF district must be approved by the Carmel Redevelopment Commission, Carmel Plan Commission and Carmel City Council. Carmel spokesman Dan McFeely said the details of the TIF district are still being discussed and not available for release at this time.
Because the existing building will be renovated rather than demolished and rebuilt, the amount of TIF dollars raised is expected to be much lower than other redevelopment sites in Carmel.
Brainard said the creation of TIF districts is usually suggested by the developer.
“In a case like this, (the developer) is trying to make the transaction work,” Brainard said. “It wasn’t so much about more money, but how do we get a decent return so the grocery store will come and the funds are available to fix up the center?”