It's a brighter day for the old Hansel Center building in South Bend. Vacant since 2003, the building was in disrepair, but is now a picture of revitalization for the city's west side.
"I think this is a great example of what South Bend's comeback looks like. We've got a lot of buildings with a rich history and a great tradition, and if we could find new ways to bring them back to life with new uses, that's a win for the city,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at the center's grand opening on Tuesday.
In one of its largest investments off-campus, Notre Dame decided in 2011 to buy the building to make it a destination for artists.
“Our main hope is to have really fine art produced here,” said Gilberto Cardenas, executive director of the Notre Dame Center for Art and Culture. “We'll do commercial work, we'll create lithographs and etchings and block prints that's really fine art.”
The university partnered with the South Bend Heritage Foundation for the $2.5 million project to save the building that was built in the mid-1920s to give underprivileged children medical care.
“It's a direct link back to Dr. Hansel and all of the good things he did to uplift lives for working class families in our community,” said Marco Mariani, executive director for the South Bend Heritage Foundation. “It's so important for our community to have this great asset. It's such a link between the university downtown and our neighborhoods on the west side. It's a fantastic opportunity for our youth, the youth in this neighborhood and the youth throughout St. Joe County.”