Today it was suggested that the City of South Bend move itself into the vacant building that once housed the College Football Hall of Fame.
Common Council President Derek Dieter wants to move city offices into the former football shrine.
“This is the center of South Bend so I think it would be a great spot,” Councilman Dieter said. “The gridiron could be used as a center for community events.”
Councilman Dieter claims that the move would save some $498,000 in annual rent payments because satellite offices for the water works, building department and DTSB could also be consolidated at the hall.
While South Bend’s administration is currently headquartered at the 14 story County City Building in downtown South Bend, the city only occupies four floors, or 25 percent of the total space (at an annual cost of $386,000 for rent and utilities).
Councilman Dieter feels there are a number of reasons why moving to the hall makes sense. “Number one, we own it, number two, the square footage, there’s ample footage to move all our offices, even some of the off-site things we have, Number three, you are in the center of town,” Dieter said.
Meantime, there is one major reason why the hall’s neighbor to the north isn’t so ‘sweet’ on the proposal.
“You got to make South Bend exciting. The hall brought the excitement, new energy, new people to our downtown and that’s what I think we need,” said Mark Tarner, owner of the South Bend Chocolate Café.
Tarner believes the city hall plan should be a last resort—while Dieter admits it is not his first choice. “That is my first choice for a for-profit business to purchase this and for it, but if that doesn’t happen, I think it’s time we start exploring the other ideas and for me, this would be the best fit.”
The city administration doesn’t appear ready to settle for a last resort type scenario. “We have no plans to move city offices at this time,” read a statement from Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (D) South Bend, although the mayor went on to say that he is always interested in exploring ways to improve city efficiency.
The city administration is still actively searching for new tenants for the former hall of fame building. The next step involves putting out a nationwide “Call for Offers” which will probably occur next month.