Downtown construction impacts Muncie businesses

MUNCIE, Ind. – The two-year-long construction project on Walnut Street in downtown Muncie is coming to an end. Still, the work and road closures have affected businesses there throughout the course of those two years. 

During the project, one business owner, Stan Stephens of the Heorot bar, sponsored an ad in Ball State’s newspaper The Daily News to promote the businesses located in the middle of the construction on Walnut, after his business was negatively affected by the construction work.

“Last year 40 percent, negative 40 percent,” Stephens said. “My bartenders don’t make as much money. A lot of their money’s from tips. And we have to have that activity, there has to be people coming in.”

Downtown hobby shop Toys Forever owner Brandon Mundell said the construction hasn’t had a substantial impact on his store’s business.

“We’re a destination retail store, so I don’t rely on people walking in off the street, so I don’t notice that change,” Mundell said. “That’s not where the money is for us.” 

The Muncie Downtown Development Partnership has communicated with business owners about details of the project over the course of the construction. Executive Director Vicki Veach said the organization is aware of the worries some merchants have about the way the construction and road closures impact their businesses.

“We’re cognizant of concerns and we’re concerned as well,” Veach said. “We want to make sure that everybody has the most convenient way to get down here.” 

One concern business owners have is in regard to the communication regarding details of the project.

“More information on correct dates would have been great for us,” Stephens said.

Mundell also cited communication difficulties.

“It is somewhat, to me, interesting that with all the technology we have now, that instant communication is almost easy to do, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way in practice,” he said.

Veach said the Partnership has implemented open communication with business owners.

“We send out email blasts on a regular basis,” she said.

Walnut Street is set to be completed by the end of September or early October. There will be a “DWNTWN Re-Opening Celebration” coinciding with this year’s ArtsWalk on Oct. 6.


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