Ball State Board of Trustees approves further steps for Village revitalization

Plans will now move to the state level for further approval

Models of the Ball State Performing Arts Center and the connecting Tapestry Hotel by Hilton location. The Ball State University Board of Trustees approved contracts for the Village revitalization project. Ratio Architects | Ball State University, Photo Provided
Models of the Ball State Performing Arts Center and the connecting Tapestry Hotel by Hilton location. The Ball State University Board of Trustees approved contracts for the Village revitalization project. Ratio Architects | Ball State University, Photo Provided

The major action of Friday’s Ball State Board of Trustees meeting was approving resolutions allowing the university to move further with their Village revitalization project.

Five resolutions were brought to the board, including signing Build Operate Transfer agreements with Fairmount Properties for two sites in the Village. These agreements allow for a public institution, like Ball State, to work with a private firm that builds the project. Once the project is completed, control returns to the public entity.

Randy Ruttenburg, the principal of Fairmount Properties, expressed his gratitude towards the board and members of the Ball State community.

“This is at the top of the list when it comes to its transformational potential,” Ruttenburg said. “The first time we came onto Ball State’s campus [12 years ago], we recognized the potential.”

Details of the approvals

The first site, on the intersection of McKinley Avenue and University Avenue, will include the new Performing Arts Center. The center will include both a main theater and a studio theater as well, as well as a shared vestibule connecting it with the nearby Tapestry Hotel by Hilton. The total budget of $69.9 million for the site includes the construction and site improvements and infrastructure.

The second Build Operate Transfer agreement was for the Center of Innovation, which will be at the corner of Martin Street and Ashland Street, across the street from the Foundational Sciences Building and the Alderdice Gates. Alan Finn, vice president of business affairs and treasurer, said he has had conversation with several groups in and outside the university about utilizing the space.

These groups and organizations include the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute and the Emerging Media Development and Design program.

Three other resolutions passed during the meeting; a ground lease to the hotel and the university’s purchase of plots of land from Cardinal Properties. 

The lease for the Tapestry Hotel by Hilton location, which will be besides the Performing Arts Center, allows Ball State to lease the land to Schahet Hotels. The hotel will include 95 guest rooms, a 4,300 square foot outside bar and restaurant, and a rooftop bar/lounge of the same size.

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A digital rendering of the Tapestry by Hilton Hotel location. The hotel will be connected to the adjacent Performing Arts Center with a lobby. Ratio Architects | Ball State University, Photo Provided

Finn said an estimated $8-10 million will be spent in the Muncie community annually by hotel guests, and the hotel will bring 36,000 people to the Performing Arts Center yearly.

“This doesn’t even really contemplate the additional businesses that will come in, the people living in the apartment buildings, spending money in the community and attending our schools,” Finn said.

The first of the two purchase agreements cover a mixed-use building across the street from the Performing Arts Center and the hotel. The plan calls for almost 14,000 square feet of retail space, 80 apartments and surface level parking for residents. The second purchase agreement is for the land where the Center for Innovation will stand.

The next steps for the project go through the state level. By mid-February, according to the presentation by Finn, the materials for the contracts will be sent to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and should be sent to the governor’s office by late April.

David Owsley Museum of Art accreditation update

Seth Beckman, dean of the College of Fine Arts, and Robert La France, director of the David Owsley Museum of Art (DOMA), both presented the board an update on DOMA. The museum is renewing their accreditation of the American Alliance of Museum (AAM). La France said that he is expecting there to be 20,000 or more visits for the 2024 fiscal year.

As part of the process, Beckman and La France requested the board to approve a statement of action that reiterates the university’s commitment to successes for the museum and the importance of the museum to the university.

“Accreditation increases the museum’s and university’s credibility and value to funders, policymakers, insurers, the community and peers,” La France said.

There was also a recommendation for the board to approve a modification of the collections' management policy. The update would add a vision statement and also modify a statement relating to Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which provides processes for museums and federal agencies to return Native American cultural items to lineal descendants and tribes. La France said there are 417 Native American items in their collection of over 12,000 items.

The board approved both items unanimously.

New chair elected and first meeting for new trustee

Every two years, the Board of Trustees elects a new slate of officers to the board. Renae Conley, who has been chair since January 2020, was succeeded by Rick Hall. This is his second stint as chair; he was previously chair of the board from 2014 until 2020.

Before the vote, Conley said her term as chair was an educational experience, with the pandemic starting soon after her term started.

“We all came out of that stronger, as we see today,” Conley said.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns congratulated Conley on her four years serving as chair.

“Thank you for your passionate dedication, your guidance and your support during those difficult times, and the high-fives during the good times,” Mearns said. “We are better and stronger because of what you’ve done.”

Today was also the first Board of Trustees meeting for new trustee William “Craig” Dobbs. Dobbs, institutional consulting director at Graystone Consulting, was appointed to the board by Governor Eric Holcomb of December 2023. Dobbs graduated from Ball State in 1986, and Mearns awarded Dobbs the President’s Medal of Distinction in 2022.

The next Board of Trustees meeting is March 22.

Contact Grayson Joslin with comments at or on X @GraysonMJoslin.