Brainard talks continuing to develop Arts District
With several new developments in Carmel’s downtown – phase two of the Carmel City Center, the redevelopment of the Party Time Rental site and the $100-million-plus Midtown project – many are wondering if attention is being paid to the Carmel Arts & Design District.
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard told Current in Carmel last month that he believes work isn’t complete and there’s still more that he’d like to see done in that part of Carmel.
Brainard said he thinks the corner of Main Street and Range Line Road is a key intersection in Carmel with tons of visibility and foot traffic. At one point, all three of the corner shops were vacant but now all of them have occupants. On the northeast corner sits the parking lot for PNC Bank, a lot that’s often used to host local events such as Santa’s house and the Christmas tree or the Strawberry Festival. Brainard’s idea is to construct a multi-level mixed-use development on that corner that would house the newly relocated PNC branch. Not only would it complete the four corners, but it would help drive foot traffic east on Main Street toward the art galleries, restaurants and businesses on that side of the arts district.
While there’s talk of new businesses and commercial development within the district, Brainard said he feels strongly that the boundaries should stay the same and remain within the archways. He said it’s important to protect the residential areas and homes that live nearby. He went on to say that the residential homes that have been converted into businesses along Range Line Road, north of Main Street, should maintain their character. He said generally that area should stay the way it is and not be torn down for larger buildings.
A number of lots on the west end of Main Street in the district, across from the Beauty Lounge, have been proposed to undergo a zoning change. Instead of being purely residential, these lots would now be zoned for business which means someone could conceivably tear down structures and build multi-level commercial buildings. Brainard said this use fits in with the city’s long-term master plan and a vision drawn up by urban planning expert Jeff Speck.
MORE PUBLIC SPACES
The Carmel Redevelopment Commission and the Carmel City Council are considering if and how to turn the interior courtyard plaza of the Sophia Square building into a public meeting space where events can be held. Brainard said there can always be opportunities for more public meeting spaces. If the parking lot south of Main Street near Old Town Tavern is ever redeveloped Brainard said he envisions the space to not only improve parking but provide for walkable pathways and attractive public spaces.
Brainard said he doesn’t think vacancies are a huge concern in the district, but there are always a few spots left to fill. One prominent one is a newly constructed building south of Main Street near Muldoon’s. That building was once thought to be the future home to a business called Crush & Brew. There’s also a vacant space where Barrett Eye Care was located that the Carmel City Center Community Development Corporation is looking to fill with an art gallery. In addition, while not a vacancy, there’s always talk of constructing some sort of development on the empty field across from Bub’s Burgers.