A Town Within a City

The Village of West Clay

By Ann Craig-Cinnamon

Hamilton County is home to many beautiful neighborhoods of all sizes.  One community, however, has earned some distinctions that may surprise you.  The Village of West Clay in Carmel is the largest residential community, not only Indiana, but in the entire Midwest.  

Bordered by 136th Street to the north, Coxhall Gardens to the south, Ditch Road to the East and Shelborne Road to the West, The Village of West Clay has more than 1700 homes and 5000 residents.  Jeff Terp, the Executive Director of the Village of West Clay Owners Association, says it is like a town within the city of Carmel.  “If you look at our annual budget of almost 5 million dollars on 780 acres, we are larger than some cities in Indiana; even in Hamilton County,” says Terp.

New Urbanism

The Village of West Clay had its beginnings 20 years ago when the Brenwick Development Company envisioned a New Urbanism community in Carmel.  It was the first and only development of its kind in Indiana and was modeled after other New Urbanism developments in places like Columbus, Ohio and Baltimore, Maryland.  Ground was broken in 1999 and the first home show was held in July of 2001.  It is now a national leader in New Urbanism with communities from all over the country visiting to learn how to duplicate it.

Terp describes the trend of New Urbanism as an outgrowth from the 1990’s of people trying to restore a sense of community in the urban sprawl.  “New Urbanism is creating a sense of community within a community; creating a walkable community.  One thing that is really different about the Village of West Clay than probably every other neighborhood, is that everything is designed to be walkable,” he says adding that all of the village’s parks, recreational buildings and amenities are designed to be within a 10 to 15 minute walk.  “From almost anywhere in the Village, within 15 minutes you can walk to the Village center and dine, bring your laundry, go workout, whatever you need to do, you can do,” says Terp.

All architecture is historically accurate and residents have to follow specific building guidelines regarding the type and style of their home.  All streets are named after historically significant people and art in the community is from significant Hoosiers.  The meeting house is named for Hoosiers Hoagy Carmichael and Jean Stratton Porter.  Terp calls it an intentionality in neighborhood design that has never been done before. 

Residential and Commercial Space

The Village of West Clay’s residential side offers everything from entry-level apartments to two and three million dollar homes.  There are single family homes, townhomes, cottages, garden homes and villas.  Most homes are styled after southern homes in Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.  Architectural styles are Victorian, Neo Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque. There is also a retirement community in the middle of the Village called Stratford and a continuing care unit. 

The community is just about at capacity with only a few empty lots remaining that are all in the process of building.  As for price range, Terp says there is a condo for sale currently for $120,000 and a home for sale for $2.2 million.

The retail and commercial side of the Village of West Clay is also very successful.  The 300,000 square feet of available commercial space is more than 98% leased.  According to Terp there are now more than 70 businesses located in the Village.  At full retail occupancy, there will be more than 100 businesses and there is a waiting list.

There are two commercial areas.  One is called Uptown, located on the peripheral area, with two banks, a CVS, Primrose daycare, a liquor store, Puccini’s restaurant, a martial arts school and, soon, the first Family Express convenience store in Central Indiana.

The other commercial area is The Village Center which is home to restaurants such as Sahm’s, Danny Boy’s, Zing Café, and Greek’s Pizza with new eateries to be announced soon. There’s also a Classic Cleaners, Indy Dental, law firms, interior designers, the first Carmel library branch, and other professional services such as a spa, Pilates studio, barber, hair stylist, plastic surgeon, art studio and a Links Office Suites, which offers shared space for businesses.  Terp says you can live, work, play and stay in the Village if you so desire.

The restaurants draw much of their revenue from outside the Village so not only do residents frequent them, the general public does as well.

Indy Dental Group was one of the first two businesses established in the Village.  Office Administrator Nancy Locke says they have enjoyed watching the great growth all around them and have loved being a part of the Village for the past 18 years.  “It is nice to be part of a close knit community.  We love the Village of West Clay.  Great fun; great concept!” she says. 

Basket Pizzazz has been a part of the Village of West Clay for 11 years.  Owner Sherri Klain lives and works in the Village and thinks the concept is amazing.  “To be able to live, work and play in the same area is great.  I have the pleasure of visiting with neighbors and friends when they are into the store, then get to see them out and about enjoying the incredible amenities here,” she says.

HOA

With the size and scope of the community, Terp says the Village of West Clay Homeowners Association does a lot more than a typical HOA and may be the largest HOA in the Midwest in terms of revenue, staff, and services, including its own security force. It has seven miles of alleys to maintain, over 20 miles of irrigation lines, 14 ponds, greenspace, eight playgrounds, three pool complexes, three exercise facilities, 10 miles of paths, a meeting house to rent for private events and all are maintained by a staff of ten people. Terp says the HOA is more than just a business in itself   “The Village of West Clay is a supporter of hundreds of businesses and they are all doing exceptionally well.  People are lining up to get in here.”   

Both Terp and Director of Communication and Resident Services Sally Cutler live in the Village.  Cutler says they have a wide range of activities that they plan for the neighborhood.  “We have summer concerts.  We just had a fall festival.  And not only do we invite our residents we also spread the word to make sure others in the community, Carmel or others around the county are welcome and can come visit us and patronize our businesses.  One of the big things is that we are very intentional about creating opportunities for people to get together to socialize and get to know each other,” says Cutler who loves living in the Village.  “The opportunity is there for my husband and me to meet so many people so quickly and easily here.”

The Village of West Clay has yet another distinction.  Terp says the International Roundabout Association gave it its highest honor.  “They toured roundabouts around the world and voted ours at Jackson Circle the Most Beautiful Roundabout in the World.”