Residents living in two of Carmel’s oldest neighborhoods say they are concerned about the impact of a planned redevelopment and worry it could affect their quality of life.
Homeowners in the Johnson Addition and Wilson Village neighborhoods are planning to address the city’s board of zoning appeals this month about a $133 million project that would redevelop the site of a former AT&T building at 210 3rd Ave. SW and two homes on Emerson Road behind it. The development is being proposed by developers Pure Development, Buckingham Companies, Third Street Ventures and Merchants Bank.
Plans for the proposed 6-story project would include 244 luxury apartments, an 80,000-square-foot Merchants Bank headquarters expansion, 37,000 square feet for boutique headquarters (including Pure Development), a 443-space parking garage and two single-family homes that would replace existing homes, 449 Emerson Road and 451 Emerson Road, both of which would be demolished.
The BZA is set to consider nine variances for the project during its 6 p.m. meeting June 27 at Carmel City Hall. The meeting is expected to draw remonstrance from longtime residents who say they would be impacted.
Longtime Johnson Addition resident Charlie Demler organized a neighborhood meeting June 16 at Carmel Friends Church about the proposed redevelopment project, where more than two dozen area residents in attendance learned about next steps. Those in attendance were encouraged to write letters to BZA members in advance of the June 27 meeting.
Demler, who has lived on Emerson Road since 1980, oversees neighborhood Facebook pages for Johnson Addition and Wilson Village and said if the Pure Development project moves forward, “any lot is up for game” in Carmel.
Neighborhood resident Cindy Babcock said she has met with the developer of the project several times after hearing about the proposal in September. She described the joint redevelopment project as one being “a lot of height, a lot of density.”
“There’s a lot that needs to change for this project,” Babcock said.
If the redevelopment project is approved, Cindy’s husband, John Babcock, said he thinks it could set a precedent for the area.
“Obviously, we want to fight this the best we can,” he said.
That sentiment was also shared by Dave Gagliano, who is also part of a group of residents who have come together regarding the proposed project.
“Whether we like a 6-story or 5-story or 4-story building, most of us will say we don’t need another apartment building in Carmel,” Gagliano said.
Gagliano said he thinks the project, if approved, could affect Emerson Road heading west as time goes on.
“They’re putting in a square peg in a round hole that doesn’t fit,” Gagliano said, referring to the developer’s plans.
Another resident, Wes Bucher, has lived in his home for 41 years and said the proposed plans calling for a 6-story building is something that many individuals in the area oppose. Bucher encouraged residents to write letters to the BZA and speak during the panel’s meeting this month.
The city’s Dept. of Community Services hasn’t made a determination about whether to give a favorable recommendation to the project as of June 17, said Mike Hollibaugh, director of the department. Hollibaugh added that the city was still developing a final report regarding the matter when contacted by Current, noting that he understands there are concerns from residents.
Hollibaugh also said there are several factors when determining whether to give a favorable recommendation or denial of a proposed project. Among the criteria is whether a particular project fits within the city’s comprehensive plan, he said.
Demler said conversations about the redevelopment proposal with neighbors have shown that many are on the same page.
“There’s no one in the neighborhood who thinks it’s a good thing,” Demler said. “We’ve put lots and lots of hours into this to let people know what’s going on. It is important to let your opinion be known.”
He added that he’d like to see the project scaled down and thinks it will affect the quality of life for those living in his neighborhood if it is approved in its current form.
“We never expected it to be six stories,” Demler said. “It’ll destroy my privacy in my backyard.”