Columnists

Parking Lot Demo First Sign Of Project Coming

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
“Road Closed” signage is up and demolition has already begun in preparation for Noblesville’s Village at Federal Hill apartment/parking garage project.

If you’ve driven by Noblesville’s Federal Hill Commons this week, then you likely noticed that the parking lot and market plaza are starting to be demolished in preparation for the $50 million planned Village at Federal Hill apartment/parking garage project.

It’s been almost five years since the City of Noblesville’s fifth park opened to our community with green space, an amphitheater, restrooms, a covered pavilion, a market plaza, community room and a 107-space parking lot.

It’s become a popular gathering place for concerts, farmers markets, church and nonprofit events and more.

I was sad as I drove by it on Saturday, thinking that our beautiful, serene park — that’s so nice to just go and enjoy some quiet time, so wonderful with lights during the holidays – was under construction with bulldozers.

We spent millions of dollars creating the 6.5-acre Federal Hill Commons park, and now we’re tearing out its surface parking lot and will soon be also demolishing the park’s five-year-old restroom building.

During construction, Old Town Companies will be making temporary striped spaces available on land just west of this project site, west and north of Wendy’s for the Farmers Market that opens for the season in May and concerts once construction starts. The old Kahlo lot, south of the project across Conner Street, will be available on evenings and weekends for public parking as well. Events will continue at Federal Hill Commons throughout the construction process, including the weekly Farmers Market, Concerts at the Commons, ice rink and other Noblesville Parks’ programming.

The current restroom building will go away, but not until new bathroom options are available. The project includes new restrooms with increased capacity in the new location.

The covered pavilion sponsored by the Rotary Club will remain. The playground area and amphitheater will remain. The developer considers the proximity to the park and its events as an amenity for these residents. No additional apartments east of Nixon Street are planned. Nixon Street will remain open but will be reconfigured as it will be the main entrance for the parking garage. John Street (one block west) will be used more for thru-traffic. There could be potential roundabouts constructed in the future at the intersections of John Street and Logan Street and John Street and Conner Street.

It’s a public-private project between the City and Old Town Companies with 220 living units and 31,700 square feet of commercial retail space. The project was announced at Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen’s 2020 State of the City address. The project’s first phase will be a five-story, mixed-use building connected to the garage at the east end of the property, according to Athletics. That building will feature 77 residential units and could include up to 1,000,000 square feet for non-residential uses. Three other buildings are planned as part of the project: Two four-story buildings and a three-story building with two levels of office space over ground-floor retail are in the plans.

The Village at Federal Hill project does not reduce the green space size of Federal Hill Commons park. The footprint of the project falls within the current parking lot and increases capacity, convenience and safety of parking, restrooms and park storage space.

As part of the negotiation and economics of the project, the city donated a small portion of the parking lot to the developer for their $35M investment. The surface parking lot will be transformed into a building with a parking garage. The city will own the garage portion of the building, so the land will remain the city’s. However, the four sides that wrap around the garage for multifamily apartments and retail (first floor) will be privately owned. This means there will be two parcels created as a result – one tax exempt and one tax generating.

There will be 300 total parking spaces, 90 of which will be used for the apartments and 210 spaces for the public. On-street parking is available for free on Logan Street, and the garage is expected to be free to the public.

Garage construction is expected to begin this year.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com