Investors pour millions into major development project near Ball State

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MUNCIE – In about a year, the Village along University Avenue near Ball State will look completely different

‪A total of $60 million will be invested into what is known as University Square.‬ Investors contributed about $54 million and the city invested $5 million plus $2 million in a tax abatement. Many businesses that leased space in the building have moved out.

Chris Ellison, the president and owner of the Red Bird Tequila Bar and Cleo’s Bourbon Bar, said his businesses will temporarily move to another location about a block away.

“I just think this is a great idea and we’re looking forward to it,” Ellison said.

Ellison’s businesses have been located at University Square for two years.

“That was the fear for us coming here—there was nothing in this block. We helped drive traffic here and I hope with the new intentions for this building that’ll just continue driving more people here, especially students,” Ellison said.

The area will be converted into more than 220 high-end apartments, more than 20,000 square feet of retail space, and a six-story parking garage with a pool on the top floor.

“It’s a huge deal—one of the biggest ones the Village has ever seen,” said Todd Donati, executive director with the Muncie Redevelopment Commission.

Donati said the mayor wanted to change the area to make it more attractive for students, people who live in the area and visitors. He added that the mayor would like to see more visitors make Muncie their permanent home.

“The mayor’s emphasis is quality of life and, you know, anytime that you can develop a community that has a lot of activity (and) a lot of things to do, it shows they are about their community,” Donati said.

The building is supposed to be demolished in mid-June. The construction project stretches a block and a half. Officials expect work to be done by August 2014.

“It’s almost like a ghost town in this one block and this is the major hub almost of the Village here so anything is welcome,” Ellison said.