Culinary arts center gets initial nod for HOF building

There could soon be something cooking at the vacant building that used to house the College Football Hall of Fame.

A proposal to set up an Ivy Tech Culinary Arts Center in the building was unanimously endorsed by South Bend city officials today (Redevelopment Commissioners).

Supporter now have six to eight months to find a way to make their plan work.

The process will require a good deal of fundraising.
The building renovations alone are estimated at $6 million.

It’s too soon to tell if the ‘odds be great or small’ that the conversion will actually take place, but the way supporters see it, the odds should at least be on their side.

“Studies have shown that about half the population cares about college football, I think we’ll agree everyone cares about food. Whole (TV) networks exist to talk about food,” said Thomas Panzica with Panzica Architecture Group.

A similar proposal did succeed in Indianapolis two years ago, where a $23 million grant from the Lily Endowment funded the renovation of an historic hotel. The building now houses the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center and features a student run fine dining establishment and a bakery.

“Food is the thing these days I'm excited for the fact that I think we do a very good job of preparing people who prepare food but we can do more,” said Chancellor Thomas Coley with Ivy Tech North west/ North central.

But in the case of the proposed hall takeover, it’s clear that Ivy Tech can’t do it alone.

“Well, just the rehabilitation of the building has been estimated at $6 million so that’s a sizeable capital campaign to have to mount but we believe there’s enough support for this idea and enough belief in what it will do for the downtown that there will be some private donors that step forward and are willing to make a substantial contribution,” said Thomas Panzica.

“We think it's going to be a wonderful thing to take something that's now quiet and a subject for people who are pessimistic to say there's South Bend, a place that's not functioning, into something that even the country will find interesting,” said project supporter Dick Pfeil.

The Culinary and Food Education Center would include a fish farm and a hydroponic garden and serve as a demonstration site for urban agriculture technology.

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