There are ambitious plans to build 24 brand new homes in a South Bend neighborhood that has been plagued by vacant and abandoned houses.
The $4.6 million project has been years in the making.
“It’s sort of bottomed out. The neighborhood is ready for redevelopment,” said Anne Mannix with Neighborhood Development Associates.
The neighborhood in question lies south of the Charles Martin Center on the city’s near northwest side.
Some of the new homes would be built on Cottage Grove Street where Delphine Harris has lived for 17 years. “I think it’s time, it’s time for a change, we need to bring something back this way. I mean every time you knock one down you should build one back. Someone always needs a nice place to live and I’m all for it.”
When 30 year South Bend resident Terry Harris was asked when was the last time someone built a new home in the neighborhood, he laughed. “They haven’t. It hasn’t happened. It didn’t seem like it would happen so that’s definitely news.”
More than 20 vacant and abandoned homes have been demolished in the area over the years. It’s to the point where the abandoned home problem has become more of a vacant lot problem.
“And there’s a lot of vacant land here to be developed. There’s not a lot of vacant land in the city in one spot,” said Mannix. “I think we’re a little ahead of the curve, but people are going to want to live here pretty soon.”
Mannix hopes the Lincoln Park development project will amount to an offer that residents can’t refuse. The monthly cost will be kept between $350 and $575 and the single family home development will be set up as a co-op.
“A cooperative is a group of people who will own the housing forever and then they'll pay the bills so it’s sort of self-sufficient,” said Mannix. “There’s no real incentive to drive the rents up because people have to vote to do that.”
The project does hinge on getting help from the State of Indiana. There is a pending request for some $3.8 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The program is highly competitive and Lincoln Park has been chosen as one of five finalists.
A final decision is expected in August.
Plans call for a mix of two, three, and four bedroom homes of one or two stories.
Each home would feature a basement and a garage.
Mannix has quietly been collecting vacant lots in the area for years. The project will cover two and a half acres of space.
Plans call for all the homes to be constructed at the same time and to be finished in 2016.