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(CARMEL, Ind.) – Carmel’s downtown Arts and Design District is filling in another puzzle piece.

The city will pay $2.5 million for PNC Bank’s one-acre property on Main Street. Mayor Jim Brainard envisions a four-or-five-story apartment-and-retail building, with underground parking to replace the surface lot.

Brainard says the problem isn’t the PNC branch, but the parking lot which occupies a prime corner at the northeast edge of the Arts and Design District. Brainard argues the parking lot detracts from the longstanding vision of a walkable downtown. And he says building on that property will generate 15-to-20 times the tax dollars. He points to the city’s recent purchase of the Monon Square strip mall. The shopping center’s parking lot filled 95{a951f02a8cac8e6d7fde2726b1b22da104131bed62748b49fddce88fa07005a6} of the property and generated $61,000 in property taxes. Brainard says that’s not even enough to cover the cost of providing city services to the property. By building on that land, Brainard expects to add $3 million dollars to the tax base, which shaves everyone else’s bill lower.

The city will seek and review proposals from developers next year. Groundbreaking isn’t expected for 12 to 18 months. The PNC branch will stay open until then.

(Photo and graphic: Carmel Redevelopment Commission)