Ball State Board of Directors Approves Village and Performing Arts Center Construction Plans

Growth of the Department of Theater and Dance

Since 1996, the number of theater and dance majors has more than doubled at Ball State, with nearly 450 current students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in nine different college programs. Traditionally, more than 1,500 students audition each year for approximately 40 spots in Ball State’s Bachelor of Fine Arts theater and dance performance programs.

Source: Ball State Office of Marketing and Communications

Bill Jenkins, chairman of Ball State’s theater and dance department, said he’s waited 20 years for his department to get more performance space to help students develop their skills and experiences.

At the March 25 board meeting, those hopes came to fruition with the council approving a plan to set up arts-themed businesses in the village with property it already owns. . The main business will be a performing arts center for the theater and dance department.

“We’re going to have the resources and the facilities to match the quality of our students that we’ve never even been able to attract, or equal to the best students I’ve had – we can just have more of them. them,” Jenkins said. “This is going to help solidify and unite our programs, which have existed across campus for so long…I think this will be an amazing way for us to contribute to the Ball State community as a whole. .”

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns said the university has five sites in the village, which it will develop into a performing arts center, 100-room hotel, apartments and restaurants over the next few years. . He hopes construction will begin next year, with the performing arts center tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2025.

Once construction of the Village is complete, Mearns said the Village Hotel will allow the university to repurpose the Student Center Hotel on the third floor. Mearns said he hopes Ball State faculty and staff, as well as employees of IU Ball Memorial Hospital and other local businesses, will be able to reside in the apartments and townhouses to be built at the intersection of West University Avenue and North Street.

Mearns said Ball State’s development of the site in the Village will aim to complement and collaborate with existing businesses and attract students, community members and multiple generations to the Village.

“[We are] not just attracting students, not just attracting faculty and staff, but attracting people of all ages and interests to come to the village,” Mearns said. “It’s an ambitious plan, but Fairmount has already done it.”

Fairmount Properties, a development company that has worked on renovation projects in other college towns, was chosen as the university’s partner after a two-year review process for different proposals, Mearns said.

“Fairmount Properties is thrilled to partner with Ball State University,” said Randy Ruttenberg, founder and principal of Fairmount Properties, in a March 25 press release. “We have met with various community stakeholders over the past year and have established relationships with many current merchants and owners in the village. We will use a district-wide approach to elevate the village, and we look forward to working with existing merchants and future tenants to do so. »

Ruttenberg said Fairmount Properties reviewed each university-owned site to come up with a plan to create “synergy between these five sites. [so] that together they would be able to attract not only the student population, but the entire population within the community and region.

“President Mearns has been focused on the fact that it’s certainly about the community, but he has the students first in his heart, and we want to make sure this is a village where students can come here during a visit to campus and say, ‘Wow, I really want to go here,’ Ruttenberg said.

The university will fund the projects, for which Mearns said he expects to generate $100 million in private investment.

Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour, who attended the meeting, said Ball State’s expansion into the village will provide new housing options for people who work in Muncie who currently have longer commute times in car from other counties. He also said the performing arts center will help attract customers to existing businesses in the village.

“I think coexistence will go well because ultimately you’ll have over 165 more events every year,” Ridenour said. “These extra people – I think the number was 30,000 is the estimated attendance – that’s a lot of people. These people are going to want to eat, they are going to have a cup of coffee, they are going to want to buy souvenirs. They will want to do a number of things. We see this as a boon not only for Ball State but also for the city.

Contact Grace McCormick with comments at [email protected] or on Twitter @graceMc564. Contact Richard Kann with comments at [email protected] or on Twitter @RichardKann.