Muncie officials draft plans for $50M riverfront project

The city of Muncie is seeking state funding for a nearly $50 million riverfront development that Mayor Dennis Tyler says could transform the central Indiana city.

The proposal would include a pedestrian bridge over the White River and four-story buildings with commercial space on the first floor for restaurants and shops, and residential units above.

The downtown project would capitalize on a $10 million storm sewer project currently under way that will channel storm water into a new canal and into the White River, creating new development opportunities for the city about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis that's home to Ball State University.

"Riverfront development could truly be a game changer for our community," Tyler told The Star Press of Muncie.

Muncie is competing with other Indiana cities in seeking a piece of $84 million in state money aimed at fostering regional collaboration and development. But Muncie's proposed $48 million riverfront canal project would also include private funding and tax increment financing.

Some Delaware County officials have said they believe it's unlikely Muncie will win state funding for the riverfront proposal, which Tyler said would create hundreds of construction jobs and about 100 permanent jobs.

City officials said the first of three phases of development could see construction begin next year.

The city's proposal, released last week by state economic development officials along with the other proposals vying for state funding, says the project would create "quality urban style housing options that do not exist in the central city by building off of existing river and greenway."

The riverfront project would add "a walkable mix of lifestyle service businesses that is attractive to young professionals and baby boomers," it adds.

A rendering of the project shows that several existing buildings between Muncie's city hall and the White River would be removed and replaced by the new development. That would mean the city would have to buy several existing properties.

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