Changing economic conditions are resulting in a new facility housing eight pickleball courts coming to Pennsylvania Street in Carmel rather than two office buildings, as originally planned.
Last month, the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved a use variance to allow the 25,000-square-foot building to be constructed on 3.7 acres at 11565 Pennsylvania St., as a commercial recreational facility is not a use automatically permitted in the area.
The site previously received approval for three office buildings, with the first already constructed to house the office headquarters for SC Bodner Co., a development and property management company. SC Bodner was set to develop the other two office buildings and petitioned the BZA for the variance. The two buildings will share a parking lot.
“The recent global pandemic caused a seismic shift in the office market generally and has negatively impacted tenant prospects for the previously approved office buildings at this location,” Kevin Buchheit, an attorney representing SC Bodner, said at the Oct. 24 BZA meeting.
The pickleball facility is set to occupy approximately the same footprint as the previously planned office buildings. It will have four pickleball courts on each side of the building separated by a central area with an entryway and locker rooms on the first floor and food service and a pickleball viewing area on the second floor.
SC Bodner did not respond to a request for more information, including the timeline to build the new facility, as of press time.
The BZA received more than two dozen letters expressing support for the project and one expressing concerns.
Mark Cannon, who works in Carmel, urged the BZA to approve the variance.
“Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for the last three years. As of last year, almost 5 million people play pickleball, and at the current growth rate, that should double in the next three to four years,” Cannon said. “There is a great demand for a facility to play pickleball.”