South Bend repossesses Bare Hands Brewery property

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:49 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Bare Hands Brewery will have to hand back the building it bought from the city of South Bend for a buck.

It was hoped that the former Gates Automotive service garage off W. Wayne Street would eventually become a Bare Hands tap room.

Bare Hands has yet to make the promised investment in the building needed to open a business there.

The original development agreement dates back to 2016. The city had extended the stated completion date multiple times.

Today, the patience of the redevelopment commission members officially ran out. They voted unanimously to reclaim possession of the building.

“I’m just very concerned that the owner did not feel the need to come to our meeting today, at least give us their side of the story. It was very disrespectful,” said commission member Vivian Sallie.

Bare Hands did submit a letter asking for at least one additional year to complete the work. “They said they faced challenges on the financing side, that there have been changes in business partners, and that financing has fallen through or not been able to be solidified in the time frame,” said South Bend Community Investment Department Director Caleb Bauer. “That was news to us as part of the sixth amendment to the development agreement. We were led to believe there was financing in place.”

Redevelopment commission members were also told that Bare Hands has a delinquent property tax bill of $6,893.

The commission unanimously voted to reclaim possession of the property. “They’re not ready to go right now,” said commission member Eli Wax. “And we extended it about seven times already, so at this point, it just doesn’t seem to make sense going forward.”

As for the future of the site, some feel the property is more marketable today than it was when Bare Hands signed up in 2016, given plans to expand the baseball stadium across the street, and plans to build additional apartment buildings in the area. “I think the viability of a redevelopment project on that site Is significantly different than it was seven years ago when this agreement was originally signed,” Bauer explained. “There have been some inquiries on the property, but we have not entertained conversations on potential uses for that property because we have an active agreement with Bare Hands, and you know it would be inappropriate.”

A notice of noncompliance will be sent to Bare Hands, which will have 30 days to either become compliant or sign over the deed.