Downtown destination: Lazzara family announces plans for $20 million project at Monon and Main

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By Ann Marie Shambaugh

It’s not every day that a $20 million project is announced for one of the few blocks in Carmel’s prestigious Arts & Design District that hasn’t been redeveloped.

But for members of the Lazzara family, all Carmel residents, that day has finally arrived.

Chuck Lazzara and his son, Anthony Lazzara, exclusively unveiled plans to Current in Carmel for Monon and Main, a mixed-use development that will be centered on an upscale steakhouse and also will include office and retail space, townhomes for sale and a quaint park. Construction is set to begin in October and wrap up approximately a year later.

“We believe this new mixed-use project is exactly what is needed to vitalize and add energy to the Arts & Design District,” said Chuck Lazzara, who also owns Ritz Charles with his wife, Lynn. “Our project leads as the entrance to Midtown projects and is going to make the Monon area at Main the epicenter of downtown.”

For the past 12 years, the Lazzaras – first Tom, a Realtor with Remax, then his brother, Chuck – slowly have been purchasing parcels just south of Main Street and west of the Monon Trail. Not one of the homeowners was asked to sell to make way for this project – but once a home was put on the market, the Lazzaras were ready to make an offer.

Their patience paid off as the last piece of the puzzle fell into place last year when the family purchased the final plot. They began working with RATIO Architects and Garmong Construction Services to develop an idea that had originated on a much smaller scale many years ago.

The original plan simply was to create a restaurant and green space. But as time went by and land prices went up, they realized that they needed to think bigger to make the project worthwhile.

The development now includes 17,600 square feet of office space and 8,000 square feet of retail on Main Street; seven high-end, 3,000-square-foot townhomes with rooftop gardens and two-car garages; and a large entertainment plaza to allow the family to continue hosting outdoor events on site, such as Jazz on the Monon.

But the centerpiece will be Anthony’s Chophouse, a 12,000-square-foot steak and seafood restaurant, a concept Anthony Lazzara, 26, has been developing since his days at Carmel High School. He continued refining the idea as a student at Ball State University, where he graduated from the rigorous entrepreneurial management program.

Anthony Lazzara traveled the U.S. to study other high-end restaurants and visited Italy to learn about wines. His research led him to develop Anthony’s Chophouse with several types of diners in mind. Fine dining will be available in the afternoon and evening on the first floor, while 3 Up, a rooftop bar, will be more casual and serve customers “gourmet bar food” from lunchtime through the early hours of the morning from its own kitchen.

“We want to specialize in celebration events, but we don’t want that to be the only driver (as is the case with) many fine dining restaurants,” Anthony Lazzara said. “We want to still attract the walkers, the people out there. Especially at night, we don’t want you to feel like you have to be dressed to the nines.”

Anthony’s Chophouse even will contain a piece of local history: the original mahogany bar from Glass Chimney, a well-respected Carmel restaurant that closed its doors in 2008. The Lazzaras hired a carpenter to remove the iconic piece of furniture many years ago, and it will come to life again on the second level of the future steakhouse.

“We’re going to put it all back together, so that the mezzanine will maybe be the Chimney Room,” Chuck Lazzara said. “People that have known Glass Chimney can go up there, and it will be that same look.”

With the plans for Monon and Main nearing completion, the Lazzara family ultimately hopes that its deep roots in Carmel will lead to a project that will make an impact for years to come.

“This is not going to be a franchise deal or someone coming in from out of state,” Chuck Lazzara said. “This is (being developed by) local people that have been here their whole lives.”

Monon and Main by the numbers

  • 7 townhomes that are 3,000 square feet each
  • 12 years to acquire the block for development
  • 8,000 square feet of retail space
  • 12,000 square feet for Anthony’s restaurant
  • 17,600 square feet of office space
  • $20 million approximate cost of entire development

Family ties

Several members of the Lazzara family are involved with developing Monon and Main. They all live in Carmel, and many of them have other ties to the downtown area. They include:

  • Chuck and Lynn Lazzara, owners of Ritz Charles
  • Joe Lazzara, Chuck’s brother and owner of Joe’s Butcher Shop on Main Street
  • Matt Frey, Chuck’s brother-in-law and owner of Bub’s Burgers
  • Tom Lazzara, brother of Chuck and Realtor at Remax
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