DWNTWN is The Original Muncie
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Come Monday, downtown Muncie will have a new identity signaling change and momentum with the lights on at the old Roberts Hotel, a possible new hotel and new restaurants and more apartment development.
The new logo, DWNTWN, and the identity, The Original Muncie, will be part of a mixed media campaign by the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership to symbolize future growth and prosperity.
"The campaign is designed to honor our rich history, as well as look ahead to the many great opportunities soon to come," said Vicki Veach, executive director of MDDP.
While some people remember the downtown of old bustling with business, people and attractions, the media campaign will promote those experiences and make the same memories for the next generation, she said.
Complete with messages like melt in your mouth, referring to restaurants like Vera Mae's or morning, noon and night, with traffic like to Ivy Tech Community College, people will see and hear news of the downtown online, radio, television, print and billboards.
Joann McKinney, president of the MDDP board and director of the Horizon Convention Center, said the effort started as coming up with a new logo and evolved as a program to have the community reevaluate their opinion of the downtown. The group hired Intersection, a local marketing and branding company to come up with the new identity and lead the marketing effort.
The original concept will look at the heritage of the downtown while offering a unique and edgy look at its current uses.
Veach said the group had other players, like Ball State University's Building Better Communities program help gather demographics needed to see the downtown to prospective employers and businesses.
That information like target markets, downtown residents and other building uses and availability will be used to recruit new business, Veach said, besides direct other local development efforts.
The new media campaign had been circulated among local government and downtown business owners in recent months,
Representatives of two longstanding downtown businesses, Muncie Music Center, and Gordy's Art and Framing, offered their support for the program, adding their support for the campaign and development team behind it. Veach was the director of the Muncie Visitors Bureau and brought he Academy of Model Aeronautics to the community.
Dave Helms, president Muncie Music Center, just invested $800,000 in a new music store and studio next to the Muncie YMCA and Canan Commons, moving from the longtime location next to High Street United Methodist Church.
"It's very cool," said Helms, about having the new business next to the park and amphitheater.
And Helms said his niche business selling musical instruments to schools could have located anywhere, but he liked the feeling and geography of the downtown.
The new media campaign should help bring more people downtown and he was excited about the possibility of a new hotel along with a renovated Roberts Hotel.
Genny Gordy, co-owner of Gordy's Fine Art and Framing, said she had complete faith in Veach and her staff and worked as partners with other downtown business and organizations.
"They are always inclusive and looking out for everyone's best interest," said Gordy.
Gordy sees growth in the downtown with new anchors to the south with Helm and the new Canan Commons besides the Ivy Tech Community College presence and other development.
That other development includes Cincinnati developers Miller Valentine begin work to convert the historic Roberts Hotel into apartments for those of age, The lights are on at the old hotel, signaling a start to the $16 million restoration,
Mayor Dennis Tyler also has worked with The Arc and its development foundation hat is studying the feasibility of a new full service hotel next to the convention center. That could be the economic boost needed to bring more apartments and people to the downtown.
Other apartments could be built at the old Sears Building on Walnut Street where some city money is being spent to improve the building facade along with a handful of other downtown buildings.
And there was word from downtown development this week that a new restaurant will open in May where the old White River Landing was located, Mat Burns and Jessica Wilburn, both former chefs at Vera Mae's, have leased the Charles Street site.
There's talk that Burns will offer a "farm to table'' eatery, although details and a name have not been finalized. Veach believed other changes were coming in the downtown landscape to help promote prosperity there.