“We have to be done with the structure by November. They (IPA) will have everything framed by the end of the year. We want to be ready to lease by the 2014 school year.” –Todd Donati | Director, Muncie Redevelopment Commission
MUNCIE — After a year of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Muncie officials and a Valparaiso developer on Thursday released details about a proposed $60 million redevelopment project that would dramatically remake more than a block of the Village commercial district near Ball State University.
Details came during Thursday’s meeting of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission, after which Mayor Dennis Tyler said he was optimistic the still-unnamed development — a two-building mix of apartments and commercial storefronts, wrapped around a parking garage to be built with $5 million in city funds — will happen.
The MRC heard from Chase Sorrick, co-owner of Investment Property Advisors, a Valparaiso developer that’s been working with Tyler on the project since last year. The Star Press first reported on the project in September 2012.
The project, which would replace the University Square building along University Avenue as well as some structures across Dill Street to the east, would consist of two buildings. The west building, bounded by University, Martin, Dill and North streets, would be 171,000 square feet in size wrapped around a 342-space parking garage.
The city would begin building the $5 million, six-story garage this summer. IPA would build the wrap-around four stories — with commercial storefronts along University and apartments facing North and parts of Dill Street — immediately afterward, with plans to be ready to lease apartments for the fall 2014 start of classes at Ball State.
The east building, measuring 145,000 square feet, would include 59 more parking spaces owned by IPA, apartments and a 3,500-square-foot storefront that would be ideal for a grocery store like Trader Joe’s, MRC director Todd Donati said. Commercial tenants are not yet lined up, Sorrick said.
The 228 apartments would range from one to four bedrooms, with a total of more than 500 bedroom suites.
Officials said about $250,000 in annual payments from IPA to the city for the lease on 266 parking spaces would help offset the city’s annual costs for paying for tax increment financing (TIF) bonds that would finance the $5 million parking structure.
The MRC approved the initial agreements needed for the project. Additional votes for the funding for the city’s parking garage will follow.
Muncie City Council member Linda Gregory — like Tyler a Democrat but often voting against her mainstream party’s efforts — sat in on the MRC meeting but told The Star Press afterward she would vote no when the matter comes to Muncie City Council.
“I don’t think the city should be in the business of providing parking for private enterprise,” Gregory said.
MRC members for the most part embraced the project. Architect Tony Costello questioned the need for more student apartments considering the ongoing construction of The Grove complex on McGalliard Road west of Oakwood Avenue, but Sorrick said IPA had thoroughly researched the market and found a need for the project.
IPA recently built Cardinal Towne near the University of Louisville, a complex that houses more than 500 students and storefronts for restaurants like Jimmy John’s and Qdoba.
The project will move quickly, officials said. Financing will close by mid-June with demolition of the existing University Square building to begin immediately. The city will start construction on its parking structure in July.
“We have to be done with the structure by November,” Donati said. “They (IPA) will have everything framed by the end of the year. We want to be ready to lease by the 2014 school year.” Sorrick said IPA and its management partner — which will have input on naming the project — will start pre-leasing this fall.
Although Sorrick displayed an artist’s rendering of the project during the MRC meeting, he didn’t release it and asked that no photos be taken of it. The drawing showed stark white buildings with no windows. Donati said the structures actually built wouldn’t look like those in the drawing.
The financing and operations mechanism of the city parking garage will involve not only the MRC but Delaware Advancement Corporation, a local economic development organization. IPA and investors in the project will get a 50 percent tax abatement for 10 years with the balance of TIF revenue going to the city.
The IPA project is separate from a long-rumored project by Ball State University to remake portions of the Village.
During Thursday’s meeting, Tyler also said that Brinshore Development, an Illinois company that planned to build 78 apartments not far from the IPA development, had failed to win the tax credits needed for its project. “They will apply again and their project will move into next year,” Tyler said.
Contact business editor Keith Roysdon at 213-5828.
Details of the $60 million Village development
Muncie officials heard the first details of a $60 million project to build apartments, commercial storefronts and a city-owned parking garage along University Avenue in the Village. The project has been proposed by Investment Property Advisors of Valparaiso.
Price tag: $60 million. IPA will invest $54 million in the project, while the city of Muncie will invest more than $5 million in tax increment financing (TIF) revenue.
Public/private funding: IPA will pay the city for 266 leased parking spaces for 20 years. Officials say the $250,000 in annual revenue will cover the city’s payments on TIF bonds. IPA will pay the city $1.4 million up front toward the first 10 years of payments.
Scope: Two buildings along University Avenue on both sides of Dill Street.
West building (replacing the current University Square): 171,000 square feet. Four stories of commercial and apartments wrapped around six stories of parking garage. Eight to 10 commercial storefronts along University measuring 16,000 square feet. Up to 342 parking spaces in a city-owned garage. More than 220 apartment units in west and east buildings. A swimming pool is planned for the top floor of the parking structure.
East building (across Dill Street from University Square): 145,000 square feet. Commercial storefront of 3,500 square feet, 59 parking spaces owned by the developer as well as an unspecified number of apartments.
Around the block: Sidewalks and on-street metered parking, as well as green spaces, rain gardens and green roofs, will be included. More than 100 parking spaces are expected to be open to the public.
Drainage: The Muncie Sanitary District will complete a separation of storm and sanitary sewers in the vicinity, improving drainage throughout the area, officials said.
Source: Investment Property Advisors, Muncie Redevelopment Commission