An underground parking garage will replace the lot at a key downtown Greenwood intersection, and two more above-ground parking garages are planned where the Greenwood Middle School now stands.

That extra parking will be needed to handle the increased shoppers, residents and visitors coming to downtown Greenwood in the coming years if the development the city is mapping out takes place. City officials are planning to open the north city building parking lot, at the southwest corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue, and the Greenwood Middle School property to developers looking to bring in restaurants, apartments, shops and other businesses.

The city already has invested in restoring current businesses with grants to improve their façades, and needs to build a new downtown as well, using land it acquired when it purchased the Greenwood Middle School on Madison Avenue last year, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said during a presentation on Monday afternoon.

Story continues below gallery

He wants more than 400 apartments and 100 town homes to be built downtown, because the number of added residents would drive shops, restaurants and other businesses to open. Population density is key to the long-term growth of downtown Greenwood, and the development of housing will be vital to its success, Myers said.

Several weeks ago the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission began the process of getting approval to fund a variety of downtown projects planned for the upcoming years.

The city’s list of projects includes: a reconstructed Madison Avenue in between Smith Valley and County Line roads, a downtown underground parking garage, retail and residential development replacing the parking lot north of the Greenwood city building, a revitalized Old City Park, a roundabout at the intersection of Smith Valley Road and Madison Avenue, a new road connecting Market Plaza and Surina Way and improvements to the intersection of Main and Meridian streets.

The first step to economic development is getting all of the infrastructure in place, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said.

This vision of the city’s future is flexible, and the city will be seeking feedback from business owners and residents beginning at a meeting Thursday evening, Myers said.

In order to make the development possible, the city has to have the enough parking spaces for people coming downtown, he said.

The underground parking lot, which is projected to cost $11 million, would be funded by the redevelopment commission, but a timeline for when the city would begin preparing plans for the project isn’t known, Myers said.

The number of parking spots could range from 300 to 500, depending on how many levels the underground parking garage has. The city won’t know many parking spots will be needed until it finds out what developers want to do with the space above the parking garage, Steinmetz said. Parking in the lot will either be free or a minimal charge, such as $1, he said.

While the city will own the building, whether it will be managed by city employees or by an outside contractor hasn’t been decided yet, Steinmetz said.

Plans show a building being constructed where the parking lot is along Market Plaza, Main Street and Madison Avenue with a grass plaza in the middle.

Two parking garages also are being considered for the middle school property, which the city purchased last year. Those likely will be public-private partnerships, meaning the city will work with a developer to build and run them, but how they will be funded or operated, and how large they will be, hasn’t been determined yet, Myers said.

Any development on the middle school property is at least five years away, he said. The school first will be used to house the police department and city court as their building is renovated. Then, the city plans to spend up to $1.5 million to tear down the school.

One part of the school that isn’t going to come down is the gymnasium, which could be upgraded and re-purposed for use by the parks department, Myers said.

Left turns also will be eliminated at the intersection of Main Street and Madison Avenue with the exception of drivers going north on Madison Avenue. The extra space gained from removing those turn lanes will be used to add sidewalk space on either side of the street, Myers said.

When the city begins to work with developers on any of the projects, it needs to make sure to lease the land rather than selling it in order to retain control over the properties, Greenwood City Council and redevelopment commission member Chuck Landon said.

When discussions about transforming downtown Greenwood began a decade ago, the belief was the city needed to be creative, he said. The plan the mayor presented Monday afternoon accomplished that, Landon said.

His concern is how much the proposed underground parking lot will cost, and how much more expensive it would be than building one above ground.

Alternative forms of transit are also important to the younger generation, Myers said. Downtown will have two possible stops for the planned Red Line rapid transit bus route on Market Plaza, south of Main Street, and Madison Avenue, north of Smith Valley Road.

The Red Line is planned to pass through Hamilton, Marion and Johnson counties, with dedicated lanes and a limited number of stops from Carmel to Greenwood. Past proposals for the bus line have shown three stops in Greenwood — at the Greenwood Park Mall, near Greenwood City Center and near Smith Valley Road and U.S. 31

If you go

What: Open house to discuss city plan for downtown Greenwood

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Greenwood City Building, 300 S. Madison Ave.

Author photo
Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.