By: Mike Rhodes—
Muncie, IN— At the October 5, 2017 regular meeting of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission, status updates on a number of economic development projects were given.
Todd Donati reported that the highly anticipated Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market is on-track to open in the spring of 2018. Walls of the new market can now be seen being erected. Due to the new construction and heavy trucks moving in and out, Milton Street will be rebuilt in sections. The commission is working with the Muncie Sanitary District to lay stormwater lines to revert stormwater south instead of north. The commission is currently working with Fresh Thyme to complete their entrance and get it roughed-in during January, so any potential disruption to Chick-fil-A will be minimal. Crew Car Wash is being constructed simultaneously, so after the Crew Wash build is complete, the Milton Street rebuild should begin. Right now it is a juggling act of coordination, but so far it is moving smoothly.
The commission is working with Ball State University to develop a branding campaign for the Muncie Cultural Trail. Parts of the Muncie Cultural Trail should be open in 2019 with additional portions to be finished in 2020.
Silver Birch of Muncie Residential Care Facility on Kilgore Ave. is estimated to open in January and will be soon be hiring an estimated 35 full-time employees at the facility.
John Fallon gave an update on the Live Near Your Work initiative. The program is highly supported by Ball Hospital and Ball State University. Both organizations are encouraging new hires to live in Muncie. Highlights from the program include:
- Improved employee recruitment and access to labor markets
- Reduced employee turnover and re-training expenses
- Improved productivity, job satisfaction and institutional morale
- Greater engagement with employer and employee team
- Greater opportunities for innovation, research and related endeavors
- Potential for greater community engagement
- Improved quality of life, healthy work-life balance
- More personal and family times
- More convenient – for work and other activities
- Greater relationship opportunities with employer team
- Savings from a lower cost of living, housing and taxes
- Greater and deeper engagement with community
- Opportunities for entrepreneurship
- Less stressful commutes, improved mental health
- Predictable and reliable travel times
- Savings from reduced commuting costs
- Opportunities for all types of housing options
- Quality schools in Delaware County
- Get to live in a college community with NCAA Division I athletics
- Access to arts, culture, recreation and leisure activities
- Locally living employees received higher performance evaluations
- Local area has a lower incidence of crime than many metro areas
- More time for families, relaxation, hobbies and interests
LOCAL COMMUNITIES BENEFIT
- Improved quality of life and community character
- Economic impact from consumable income spent here
- Added professional community engagement and leadership
- Additional people to support local activities and facilities
- More effective use of transportation system (bike, walk, bus)
- Enhanced air quality
- Less traffic congestion and fewer road construction delays
- Growing tax base and school revenues
- Opportunities to rebuild neighborhoods and communities
- Supporting area businesses
The Live Near Your Work initiative requires an increase in housing in Muncie. Fallon explained that currently, condos in Muncie sell in one day. Most Muncie Realtors agree there is a lack of inventory here, with many homes selling in a week to 10 days. To address that need, a number of housing projects are being developed right now. 100 new homes are being targeted to be built that are both market rate homes and income based homes.
Vicki Veach, executive director of the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership reviewed some of the achievements that have taken place downtown over the past few years. Vicki explained that both the new Courtyard Marriott Muncie and Horizon Convention Center are doing very well. The hotel provides Muncie with $300,000 in property taxes. The hotel has a staff of 45, of which 20% have disabilities. 1,100 people currently live downtown. The average age of a downtown resident is 33 years old. However, older people who want to downsize are also interested in living in downtown Muncie. Occupancy rate for available downtown living spaces is currently at 99% with a waiting list for downtown housing. Vacancies typically only last for 72 hours or less.
2,766 people work in downtown Muncie from a total of 294 businesses. (92% commercial occupancy.) The Muncie Downtown Development Partnership has helped create 200 new jobs and administers a total of 70 event days of activities downtown for Muncie residents to enjoy. For example, ArtsWalk, recently held downtown, attracted 6,000 people to the event.
Related ArtsWalk article