A look at the new Mishawaka City Hall

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Mishawaka is a city on the move.

Especially now that the move into a new city hall has begun.

During a tour of the building today, the ambiance was described as light, open, and airy: Modern with a Starbucks-type vibe.

You won’t have to pass through a metal detector to get inside, although bulletproof glass has been strategically placed throughout the building.

The new council chambers can hold twice as many spectators as the old one, yet the building also includes a front porch and a backyard patio.

“While Mishawaka is growing, and we project to grow even more in the future, we still kind of want to maintain that small town feel when we’re offering our services,” explained Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood. “We want one-stop shopping. We want face-to-face interaction.”

The building will house the city administration, the police department, and the business office of Mishawaka Utilities.

An open house has been scheduled for October 27, and plans call for the Mishawaka Common Council to hold its first meeting in the building on October 3.

The police department portion of City Hall includes a crime lab, a workout facility, and a command center with redundant power to respond to natural disasters.

The building was built in the late 1980′s to house a Liberty Mutual Insurance Call Center.

“They didn’t lay anybody off, the 300 people that worked here, they let them, gave them a computer and a phone they said you can work from home. This is pre-pandemic,” Mayor Wood recalled.

Given the state of the commercial real estate market for office space. Given the fact that the building sits on two and a half blocks in the heart of the downtown. Given Mayor Wood’s belief that working from home would never work for city government, the city took action.

“We’ve taken a building that we think, had we not acquired it, could have really gone the other direction. It could have fallen into the wrong hands,” Wood surmised. “We took that prospect and turned it around and made it into something very exciting for the public, and I think the public at large is going to be blown away when they see this.”

The project takes three city departments that are now located in three separate buildings and puts them into one building that had been vacated by its private owner. “I think one of the great things about this project too is that all three buildings that we are vacated will have productive uses,” stressed Wood.

The old police headquarters will serve as a corporate headquarters, while the utilities property will be demolished and used for parking as parts of a healthcare development.

The former city hall will be used as a neighborhood center offering preschool and child care, as well as other services.