Downtown Muncie has always been a maze to drivers with one-way streets and alleyways. This past year things have been even more difficult because of the $3 million dollar construction project closing down parts of Walnut Street.
The city began work earlier this year. Originally officials told the shop owners construction would be completely finished by the end of this fall. However, earlier this week, shop owners were told work on the 100, 400 and 500 blocks would not allow bids from contractors until spring of next year. This construction is scheduled to be done as late as August of 2016.
Rod Crossland, CEO of Wishbone Gifts on Walnut Street says he has seen as much as a 30 percent drop in sales since the 200 block was closed down. At one point, even the sidewalk was closed, forcing Crossland to sit outside and direct people how to get in to his store. Crossland said some days it’s been hard just to get back to his home above his shop because the construction Downtown has made it so difficult to navigate.
Other owners like Fred Prow from Pazlos Jewelers say the construction is a “necessary evil.” Prow says he thinks the area really needed the makeover and hopes the better streets and sidewalks will eventually bring in more customers. However, news of the construction taking longer than planned has Prow nervous. He says jewelers need to do well during the holiday season or it puts them behind for the next entire year.
The project is all part of the city’s plan to make things look more uniform. Sidewalks and curbs across the city are going to start looking the same. The plan is scheduled to even reach into the Village area near Ball State. This means the Village will get wider sidewalks made of the same material as downtown.