Work on old Studebaker building could begin soon

Work could soon begin on a massive project to shore up South Bend’s economic future—while dusting off an iconic building of the past.

The so-called Ivy Tower project calls for converting a huge Studebaker factory building into a state of the art data and technology center.

“I think it’s going to be one of the most dynamic places for economic development in South Bend,” said South Bend’s Director of Community Investment, Scott Ford.

The Ivy Tower stands south of Coveleski Stadium at 635 S. Lafayette Boulevard. It stretches six stories high, with some 880-thousand square feet of usable space.

The plans were first made public in the spring of 2012. The first major contract for work on the property is expected to be awarded next week by the South Bend Board of Works.

“Well, there’s both lead based paint and asbestos and some PCB’s, in of themselves they’re not complicated, but it’s a big building so it just takes coordination and timing to get all those pieces in alignment,” said Kevin Smith who owns the Union Station Technology Center, and the Ivy Tower.

The City of South Bend has agreed to cover the costs of the environmental clean-up.

“It’s likely to be, likely to be above $3 million for the remediation but we think this is a great opportunity, it’s a huge project with potential of bringing a number of jobs to this city,” said Scott Ford.

The building-as it stands-hasn’t changed much since the last Studebaker rolled off the line some 50 years ago.

The remediation project is so large, that the environmental clean-up work could take up to a year to complete.

The Ivy Tower project is designed in part to capitalize on the success of the Union Station Technology Center next door. “I expect within a year, year and a half, I’ll be completely out of space here (Union Station), so it’s really allowing me to just continue the business I’ve already developed, we’ve been growing about 40-percent a year for five or six years now,” said Kevin Smith.

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