The Carmel City Council on June 21 voted 5-3 to approve a local income tax bond up to $11.5 million to fund a 300-space parking garage north of the Carmel Police Dept. headquarters.
The CPD building is soon set to be expanded, and the three-level parking garage will accommodate the larger building and other business and future residential uses in the area. The garage is planned to eventually be wrapped with condos.
Deborah Boyer, who owns Cornerstone Dentistry, was one of two people to express concern about the project during a public hearing. She said she moved her practice to 912 S. Range Line Rd. in 2006 in large part because of the ample parking available but that spaces have dwindled as development has occurred nearby. She said ongoing construction of the nearby Melange townhomes and condos has been a particular challenge.
Boyer, who owns the 20,000-square-foot building that houses her dentistry office and other tenants, is concerned about the placement of the garage and the impact on her business during its construction.
“Parking has always been the issue that has prevented (new tenants) from signing a lease, so it’s an important factor for us,” she said.
Carmel Redevelopment Commission Director Henry Mestetsky said the city is permitted to build on the parcel as long as it replaces the 69 existing parking spaces that will be lost. He said the new garage will have enough spaces to accommodate peak traffic at the CPD headquarters and replace the lost parking spots and provide parking for future condo owners.
Councilor Tim Hannon joined councilors Laura Campbell and Tony Green in voting against the bond. He said the garage should be funded through tax increment financing, as development of the Melange project to the west resulted in the loss of 84 parking spaces. He also believes the addition of a 450-space garage planned nearby could lead to a reduction in size and cost of the CPD headquarters garage and that the continued addition of garage space doesn’t correlate with the pedestrian-friendly city Carmel wants to become.
City Council Vice President Kevin Rider disagreed with Hannon’s conclusion.
“I’m all about us being a walkable and bikeable community, but I don’t want to build that walkable and bikeable culture on the backs of our business by not providing them enough parking in the current times,” he said.
The parking garage was not initially included among the various projects proposed as part of $125 million in bonds brought before the council in late 2020, but as the council’s finance committee members discussed the CPD expansion project, they decided a garage was needed in the area.