Apartments proposed for South Bend LaSalle Hotel building

An $11 million deal is in the works to renovate the old LaSalle Hotel building in downtown South Bend.

The nine story structure lies at the corner of Michigan and LaSalle Streets, next door to the Morris Center for the Performing Arts.
The LaSalle hasn’t been a hotel since 1973. Before it was abandoned in 2003, it had served as a Charismatic Renewal church.

The plans that went public today call for 59-apartment units with commercial storefronts on the ground floor. It’s a beautiful structure, right on a major intersection, it’s got great prominence, great bones, and it’s very rehabable,” said Brad Toothaker, Managing Partner with Great Lakes Capital.

A look at the interior of the building shows that there’s room for improvement in room, after room, after room, but all it really takes to see the potential is one look out the window.

“The views are going to be pretty much unparalleled in the community. They are phenomenal views, it doesn’t matter which way you’re looking,” said Toothaker.

And the city likes what it sees in Great Lakes—a local firm with a proven track record of renovating historic structures in downtown South Bend. “We have been good and creative in the way we have restored buildings,” said Toothaker. “This is our third; we’ve kind of worked our way up in size and magnitude to come degree, so we’ve had a little practice.”

The city will play a financial role in the renovation. “It’s an $11 million project roughly, it’s $10.8 million and the city’s contribution would be around $1.8 million to help with some cost of care, some of the remediation components and some façade improvement,” said Scott Ford, Executive Director of South Bend’s Community Investment Department.

In 2011, a Michigan based firm gave up on its efforts to renovate the LaSalle. Toothaker feels the timing is more condusive for the project today. “We've got great momentum downtown and we feel that a marketplace has been created over the last five or ten years that maybe didn't exist maybe five years ago or certainly beyond that.”

Toothaker says the rents will be in the $800 to $1,000 range.

Great Lakes Capital also renovated the American Trust Building at Michigan and Washington Streets (Café Navarre), and the Citizen’s Bank building at Michigan and Jefferson.

“Both my principal partner, Ryan Rans and I are from here; we’re local high school graduates. We’re just reinvesting in the community and growing a business that has to do with the development and redevelopment.”

Today the South Bend Redevelopment Commission chose Great Lakes as the preferred developer for the LaSalle project. That meant rejecting two other bids.

Negotiations will continue on a final purchase and development agreement.

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