The mayor of Muncie says $100 million in public and private investment downtown over the last two years is a play to keep Ball State University and Indiana University School of Medicine graduates in the city. Dennis Tyler says boosting the urban core will “transform out” to the rest of the community and help build momentum that will attract and retain talent. He says the city recently experienced an example of this “steamroll” effect when a potential developer reached out to city officials hours after they announced the $7.5 million planned housing transformation of the old Sears Building.
During an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Tyler said the improvements going on in and around downtown Muncie would not happen without buy-in from the private sector.
"We can’t do it by ourselves," Tyler said, "so for private investors to want to be a part of this is important." He cites a number of projects that are ongoing or have come together in recent years — including the $20 million Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and Erskine Green Training Complex, the multi-million revamp of the city’s eastern corridor and the aforementioned Sears redevelopment that include more than 40 units of housing — to change the face of what had been a downtown in decline.
More than a 1,000 people currently live downtown and available housing is at a premium with a 98 percent occupancy rate, which Tyler says "clearly tells you that we need new quality-of-place types of housing." The Sears project has received approval from the city’s redevelopment commission and could move toward construction phases in the coming months if all funding comes together for developer Roebuck LLC.