Downtown Muncie IN landmarks get a facelift

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, IN. - Downtown Muncie's great landmarks, the Roberts Hotel and the Boyce Block, should get some notice from facelifts funded by local government's development effort.

Muncie Redevelopment Commission awarded  $1 million in grants on Thursday to spark a new renaissance that should bring more people and money to the heart of the community.

 MRC President Dan Allen presided over the excitement in handing out money to downtown property owners who will provide housing, retail and office space to the community. The program was patterned after an effort over a decade ago that easily invested up to $25 million with the building improvements and uses.

 The city had 15 applications and narrowed it down to 10 that represented the best designs and historic preservation. Downtown folks like Vicki Veach, development director; Bill Morgan, city historic preservation officer, and Annie Poole, MRC member, helped review the applicants and make recommendations.

 Allen said all the awards were based on property owners signing contracts and abiding to rules to preserve building architecture and style.A trio of local architects, Taylor Architects, GEA Architects, and Studio 3 Architects will handle design and construction plans for the work.

And the biggest impact will probably be seen along East Main Street where the Boyce Block that houses Muncie Civic Theater, gets a facelift with $124,399 that represents 70 percent of renovation costs.

 The Quirk, Rivers, Hunter law office down the street at 117 E. Main St. got $174,580 while the storefront at 109 E. Main St. also will see $36,570.

 Other big projects include an apartment development in the old Sears Building at 115 S. Walnut St. with $187,500, and a facelift for the old Aber Apartments at 425 S. Walnut St., awarded $101,154 

 The biggest grant award was $250,000 for the Roberts Hotel that is supposed to be converted to apartments by Cincinnati developer Miller Valentine. Downtown development officials are hoping for that boom to follow a new hotel that could locate next to the Horizon Convention Center.

 Other properties and awards include 103 N. High St., $44,218; 120 N. Walnut St., $35,502' 300 S. Walnut St., Goodard Building, $44,596, and the old Sinclair gas station at 225 E. Washington St.

 The grant comes in the form of a five year forgivable mortgage along with the owner listing the building as a local landmark. The program  had $1.5 million at its disposal in 2002 that reformed Walnut Street into a historic wonder.

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