A New Downtown for Carmel

Now that you’ve seen what used to be located on the site of Carmel City Center, you’re probably wondering how this all became a reality.

During Mayor Brainard’s first mayoral campaign in 1995, when he went door-to-door, he encountered a recurring question, which was “where’s downtown Carmel?” He also kept hearing from citizens that there wasn’t anywhere in Carmel to go to dinner and to see a show. People had to go all the way to downtown Indianapolis for that.

Numerous opinions existed on the topic of what was downtown Carmel. Some thought it was Main Street in Old Town (which was Carmel’s original downtown) and some even considered downtown to be Merchants Square or the Meridian Corridor.

Mayor Brainard made it his goal when he took office to build Carmel a true downtown—a place where citizens could gather together and enjoy a variety of entertainment and recreational opportunities. Since Carmel’s original downtown located on Main Street in Old Town wasn’t large enough to function as a downtown for the size of city Carmel had grown to become, the Old Town was transformed into the Arts & Design District. 

Carmel City Center site (before)

The site for Carmel City Center, at Range Line Road and City Center Drive, was chosen due to its central location with the City Buildings to the south, the Carmel Arts & Design District to the north and the Monon Greenway running through it. The Carmel Redevelopment Commission purchased the land at that location and made it ready for redevelopment.

In 2004, the plans for Carmel City Center were unveiled and approved; and in 2005, the financing for The Center for The Performing Arts was approved by the Carmel City Council. Ground was broken for the construction of Carmel City Center in 2006.

A Look Back

Most of you are familiar with Carmel City Center—Carmel’s new downtown with the state-of-the-art Palladium concert hall and buildings with architecture reminiscent of the great cities of Europe.

Carmel City Center--a view of the Palladium from the reflecting pond

Complete with its own performance venues, the Palladium, Tarkington and Studio Theater, Carmel City Center is a destination like no other in central Indiana. It truly offers the appeal of a neighborhood and the vibrancy of a downtown. Carmel City Center is now the location of luxurious residences, specialty retail and restaurants, premier office space and is the home of The Center for the Performing Arts, which includes a 1,600 seat world-class concert hall named “The Palladium,” a 500-seat theater named “The Tarkington” and a 200-seat black box theater. The Monon Greenway runs directly through the project. 

However, let’s take a look back in order to see just how far we’ve come…

Carmel City Center (Before) -- Abandoned Kroger and stripmall

Less than ten years ago, the corner of City Center Drive and Range Line Road was the site of an abandoned strip mall with a dilapidated Kroger store.

There were no signs of the newer developments. Those didn’t exist until the vision for Carmel City Center was revealed and the plans put into action.

You can also view a video of the demolition of this building below:


You’ve watched the progress of Carmel City Center over the last few years and waited in anticipation for its completion. Well, we’re getting close and many exciting announcements will be made in the months ahead.

I hope you’ll stay tuned to this blog for the “inside scoop” on Carmel City Center. I plan to keep you informed of the new businesses signed, events taking place in or near City Center and other interesting happenings around the city. I’ll even put together sample itineraries for the weekends…just to take the guesswork out of your free time activities.