Ball State Drops Bid for Eminent Domain; Hiatt Safe

MUNCIE, IN—Ball State University has cancelled its plans to use eminent domain to buy property that includes a printing business for the construction of a $25 million learning facility for hospitality and food management students, the student-run Daily News reported.

Hiatt Printing had been threatened by the proposed McKinley Commons center, which would have included a living-learning center/lab with a hotel and restaurants. Hiatt had gone to court to stop the proceedings, but earlier this year a judge ruled that the university could move forward with the project.

Tony Proudfoot, associate vice president of marketing and communications, told the student newspaper in an e-mail that the school will study alternative locations for McKinley Commons or “turn to other strategic priorities.”

The printer and the school attempted to negotiate a selling price, but Hiatt owner Chris Hiatt reportedly asked for $1.25 million while Ball State offered $400,000. Proudfoot said the gap could not be reconciled and felt it was in the school’s best interest to stop the eminent domain proceedings.

Chris Hiatt expressed relief at the conclusion of what has been a two-year ordeal for the company, but cautioned that other businesses will remain at risk of seizure.

“…while the recent decision to abandon the seizure of the McKinley property by Ball State is certainly a victory for the Hiatt family in the immediate moment, it really means that Ball State University simply lives on to attempt to seize private property yet another day.”