Notre Dame to occupy old Hansel Center

There’s a ‘fighting’ chance that South Bend’s old Hansel Center will be renovated and re-occupied, with some help from the University of Notre Dame.

The Hansel Center building stands at 1045 West Washington Street.

Although it has been vacant since August of 2003, it has always stood as a symbol for serving the greater community good.

“The Children’s Dispensary was built in the mid ’20-s, it served the underprivileged children in South Bend,” said Economic Development Specialist for the City of South Bend, David Relos. It was a place where they could some and get medical care, back in the ’20-s when there weren’t any other ways for them to get care.”

Later, the building was used as the administrative headquarters for Head Start.

Just when it seemed that the building’s best days were behind it, the University of Notre Dame has expressed a willingness to own it.

“I think this is one of the largest investments off-campus that the university has made in South Bend,” said Marco Mariani, Executive Director at the Heritage Foundation. “Right now, the primary tenant is going to be the Institute for Latino Studies from the University of Notre Dame, there will be art studios there, a print making shop, galleries.”

Renovating the building won’t be easy—in fact it’ll take some $930,000 worth of help from the City of South Bend. Most of the city money will come from the TIF or Tax Incremental Financing account.

“The redevelopment commission has appropriated, targeted $800,000 to go into exterior repairs, tuck pointing, windows, new roof, all new mechanicals,” said Relos.

Notre Dame will use its fundraising skills to come up with another $1.5 million needed to finish the job.

It’s to the point where the work is expected to begin by the end of the years, and when it’s completed, the university will own the building.

“This is a large investment by the University of Notre Dame in South Bend in the west side, it’s going to bring arts, culture, to the West Washington Street neighborhood,” said Mariani.

There are many partners involved in the project beyond the city and the university.

The South Bend Heritage Foundation now owns the building, and the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center contributed to the project.

A proposed memorandum of understanding for the project was approved today by the South Bend Redevelopment Commission.

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