High-rise plans change for South Bend

First, Notre Dame picked a new starting quarterback.

Now the city of South Bend has picked a new downtown high-rise developer.

The city’s Redevelopment Commission on Friday terminated its contract with Gameday Incorporated of Atlanta.

That dramatically changed the game plan for a 15-story, $45 million condominium complex.

The city then took the same plot of land just south of the College Football Hall of Fame, and promised it to an Indianapolis based hotel developer.

R.E.I. plans to build a 10-story structure at a cost of $25 million.

While the new project is smaller, officials believe it has a much better of chance of being built.

“The site has been on hold,” said South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke: “Gameday came in with a great proposal, we appreciated it. Unfortunately they weren't able to get the financing to move that forward.”

Gameday first sewed up the site in early 2006. The company missed repeated deadlines for the start of construction.

“We're ready to see some construction,” said Jennifer Laurent, an Economic Development Specialist with the City’s Redevelopment Department. “Certainly we realize that the public is anxious to see something happen there, we do recognize that it’s a prime site in our downtown, right across the street from Century Center. and the College Football Hall of Fame.”

Representatives of the hotel developer says they’ll do more than give it the old “college try.”

“This is what we do for a living,” said Michael Wells, of R.E.I. Investments, Inc. “Our business is building hotels, and we’re not relying on our financing, we know we can get financing so we’ll get the plans done and we’ll get this hotel built.”

Plans call for construction to start in the Spring of 2008, and wrap up in the late Spring of 2009.

A spokesman for Gameday, Brad Pager, says the company will search for a new site for its project.

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