South Bend has a ten acre opportunity to bring a lot of new housing to town.
“I think it’s the choicest piece of property, along the river, great views, things like that, but it’s been industrial for 125 years, we’re trying to change that,” said TRANSPO Board of Directors President John Leszczynski.
A prime parcel was created in the 900 block of East Northside when the old TRANSPO headquarters building was demolished.
In April, three local developers submitted plans to build brand new housing on the site but details of those proposals have only been seen by TRANSPO officials. “Oh I think they're very exciting. I think they're really interesting, and they're definitely all over the board,” said Leszczynski. “I’ve never seen three ‘different’ proposals.”
As early as next week, TRANSPO plans to make details of the proposals available to the public so input can be gained before the TRANSPO board picks a favorite developer by mid to late summer.
“I haven’t seen ‘em, and haven’t heard about them, and you know, here we are, we’re the neighborhood association,” said Karen Shefmeyer, with the Howard Park/ East Bank Neighborhood Association.
Some property owners in the neighborhood are starting to feel like they’re being forced to ride in the back of the bus as the site sale progresses. “So what happens if they don't make the right decision, and they put a use here and they can't lease it up, or sell it?” asked Shefmeyer. “And now we have a bunch of vacant units.”
Howard Park/ East Bank Neighborhood Association President Don Shefmeyer worries that there’s a big difference between what is in the neighborhood’s best interests, and what is in TRANSPO’s best interests. “When they say they want the highest dollar amount that means the highest density. The only way a developer can come in and make any money at all, is to squeeze as much in here as he possibly can to get the price up for what he can sell it for.”
Shefmeyer clearly wants to see market rate single family homes with yards and garages—the kind that would lure families to the area.
Leszczynski admits that all three of the proposals received by TRANSPO call for a mix of single family and multi-family units. “Not high rise, not three or four (stories), you know, one or two stories similar to what's being done on the East Bank. Hopefully it’s the right mix of what the people are saying they’re willing to buy and need right now.”
Lexzczynski says in a “week or two” TRANSPO will start sharing details of the proposals received so far