Favored hotel site in east Muncie identified along Memorial Drive – The Star Press

MUNCIE, Ind. − A consulting firm hired by the city administration to determine if a new hotel could succeed on the city’s east side has determined that 4500 E. Memorial Drive, near the Academy of Model Aeronautics and Delaware County EMS Station 3, would be the best spot to erect a new 55-room hotel.
Mayor Dan Ridenour said the city is leaning toward making that location its target to have a new inn built to serve the city and motorists with destinations in the eastern and southern parts of the city, including new industrial development near Cowan Road south of Muncie. Officials should know in October whether the hotel project there is likely to come together.
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“This site is an ideal location to provide the best visibility and accessibility from Muncie Bypass/Highway 35, sits west of Delaware Country Club and is south of the Muncie Sports Complex,” said the feasibility study. “Review of demographics and community interviews suggest that an upscale hotel would be ideal and provide amenities to meet the community’s needs.”
Ridenour said the property is owned by AMA. It is currently a farm field. The mayor said that the Academy was supportive of the project.
The study was put together by Growth Services Group LLC. of Hannibal, Missouri, and was designed to provide estimates of success of a hotel and recommendations as to the size and scope of the development. GSG recommends a 55-room hotel at the 136 acre site with amenities that include a pool, elevator, business center, hot breakfast, a bar/lounge and a fitness room. The hotel has a recommended rate range of $115 to $130 per night.
Ridenour said the city was also seeking a restaurant at or near the site to compliment a hotel. The mayor said the city had narrowed the hotel franchise down to one but he was not yet ready to make that public.
“Specific brand affiliation did not appear to be critical, but branding of some sort appeared to be somewhat important during community interviews, the study said. “It is suggested that any hotel development should include a quality regional or national brand name.”
The visibility of the property from the Muncie Bypass was a major factor in the site’s favor.
The study notes that the location is near the Delaware Country Club, situated on Country Club Road, and is accessible from two two exits off the Bypass. The Memorial Drive site was rated as excellent by GSG and was one of four examined by the consultants. Other sites included: A 26-acre site at 2200 E. Jackson St., near the Kitselman Pure Energy Park; a 3.8-acre site at 200 N. Ind. 67 at Jackson Street and the Muncie Bypass and an 11.4-acre site at Ind. 32 and Country Club Road just south of the Muncie Sportsplex.
GSG said the size of the Memorial Drive site offers the opportunity for mixed use development along with the hotel.
Ridenour also said there was expanding development not far from the site with Pizza King placing a restaurant farther east of its current location on Memorial Drive − across from new apartments being built at Burlington and Memorial drives at the former location of a Marsh supermarket just west of the Bypass.
A traffic count report included in the study determined that the northbound Bypass has an average daily traffic volume of 18,242 vehicles in the vicinity of Memorial Drive with 16,256 vehicles headed north there on the Bypass. The heaviest traveled streets in Muncie, shown on the study, were Jackson Street downtown with an average daily vehicle count of 25,611 and McGalliard Road near Tillotson Avenue with a 25,289 average daily vehicle count.
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Cost of the project is estimated by GSG to be close to $9 million minus a possible $850,000 grant to the developers from the Muncie Redevelopment Commission that was included in figures provided in the study.
Ridenour and GSG said that most of the city’s hotel rooms are now located in the northwest part of Muncie, which is good for serving Ball State University, but not for the business travel related to new southside manufacturing plants such as CANPACK. The exception may be the Courtyard by Marriott at the Horizon Convention Center downtown with 150 rooms and average rates for a standard room being $123-to-$163 per night.
The study said Muncie has 695 hotel rooms. The smallest hotel, the 25-room Ball State University Hotel in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center on campus, did not include rate information in the study. Standard room rates at the other hotels ranged from $76 to $105 per night on average at Quality Inn & Suites to $156 to $249 per night on average at Holiday Inn Express & Suites.
Not included in the GSG Study, according to Ridenour, were plans announced by BSU President Geoffrey Mearns in March to include a 100-room “best-in-class” hotel built in The Village commercial district in conjunction with development of a performing arts center at University and McKinley avenues. Construction was forecast to start as soon as 2024.
While the planned project was not part of study, the mayor said GSG was aware of the future development in The Village. Copies of the GSG studied have been forwarded to the MRC.


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