A proposal to build a six-story apartment building and connected for-rent townhomes at 210 3rd Ave. SW took another step forward Dec. 1 when the Carmel Plan Commission hearing officer approved the site plan and designs.
Mike Hollibaugh, director of Carmel’s Dept. of Community Services, served as the hearing officer. Because the project is in an area with C2 zoning, the plans went before a hearing officer instead of the full commission.
The $133 million project is a public private partnership between the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and developer Buckingham Companies and other partners.
Since learning about the project in 2021, several residents in the adjacent Johnson Addition and Wilson Village neighborhoods have remonstrated against it, which, among other concerns, they say is too tall to be built so near single-family homes.
During the public comment portion of the Dec. 1 meeting, John Babcock, a Wilson Village resident, said he felt the city did not seriously consider the neighbors’ feedback during the review process.
“None of the design team, none of the city has taken into account neighborhood input. All you’ve done is ramrodded through what you wanted to do. The Dept. of Community Services is now basically a department for developer services, because you do not serve the community,” Babcock said. “You’re foxguarding the hen house. There are no checks and balances to this system.”
Before approving the plans, Hollibaugh pointed to a 2016 ordinance amendment that requires building heights to increase gradually on property adjacent to residential neighborhoods. He said the ordinance is working as intended, as developers placed two-story townhomes on the side of the project nearest the neighborhood to help transition to the taller apartment building.
“I share your frustration. I appreciate it, but this project meets the ordinance. You might not like it, but it does meet the ordinance,” Hollibaugh said. “The fact that the BZA has already been allowed to weigh in on this, and they denied the use variance, hopefully there’s a wee bit of satisfaction in that, although I know there’s not a lot of love for the project in general in (Johnson Addition and Wilson Village).”
In July the BZA denied a variance request to allow office use in residential zoning, as part of an office building as originally proposed stretched into a residentially zoned area.
At the hearing officer meeting, CRC Director Henry Mestetsky also pointed to the project as an example of the ordinance working as intended.
“This project really gives us the best of everything we could’ve hoped for: good architecture, a proper transition to surrounding neighborhoods and it grows our Midtown vibrant economic development area,” he said.
Construction of the project is expected to start in summer or fall of 2023.