South Bend plans revitalization of Lincolnway W. and Western Ave. corridors

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Two major roads are getting some much needed attention in an effort to revitalize parts of South Bend.

The Lincolnway West and Western Avenue corridors have experienced a decline in business over the last few decades. Many vacant and abandoned homes line the roadways.

Now, the city is asking residents to share ideas on how to improve the area. Two workshops held Wednesday night allowed people to speak out about what they want to see happen in the neighborhoods.

A main reason for renewed interest in improving the corridors is that these roadways give many visitors a first impression of South Bend. For those flying into the airport, Lincolnway West is the route that leads them downtown.

“What it used to be was a grand entrance to the city,” said Jerry Niezgosdki, chairman of the Lincolnway West Gateway Association.
The current condition of Lincolnway West creates a lackluster route for people driving through.

“We want to see a transformation of the corridor,” Niezgodski said.
Many of the same challenges are present on Western Avenue. Empty storefronts can be spotted one block after another.

“We want to have a good face,” said Henry Davis Jr. , D – South Bend district 2. “Hopefully, that brings the investment we need.”

The department of community investment has secured $2 million dollars in order to fund the improvement project.

“The strategy needs to go beyond beautification,” said Jitin Kain, director of planning for community investment. “If we beautify a space where there are no market conditions, the beauty goes away in just a few years. We have to be strategic.”

An architectural and planning firm has been hired to review data and resident feedback. They will present a plan Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Century Center.

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