South Bend announces nearly $1B investment in downtown growth

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:34 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Downtown South Bend will see around $1 billion over the next few years for new housing, retail, restaurants, and opportunities for employment.

Mayor James Mueller says that South Bend has served a proud history and is looking forward to a bright future, especially in the heart of South Bend.

“We are here to dream big and here to dream together,” Mayor Mueller says.

A formal plan for downtown South Bend was announced Tuesday morning at the St. Joe County Public Library.

“We are announcing the initiation of a downtown plan, a formal plan, to figure out how do we make sure that these are greater than some of its parts, and we will be finalizing our contract with an international urban planning and community development firm based out of Pittsburgh called Urban Design Associates,” Mueller says. “And through the first two quarters of 2024, we will be working with community members, stakeholders, and business folk to figure out how we make South Bend what we all know it can be.”

The funding will bring 500 housing units, retail, and stores to downtown South Bend to provide more job opportunities.

Willow Wetherall, the executive director of Downtown South Bend, says the area has already welcomed dozens of businesses.

“In less than two years, downtown has welcomed 29 businesses ranging from engineering, marketing, financial firms, restaurants, boutiques and retail shops and galleries,” Wetherall said. “It’s a really exciting time for our small business community downtown. We are also pleased to note that 52% of these new businesses are women and minority-owned. So, we are seeing a real change and makeup of our downtown business, and it’s a change for the better.”

In addition to the plan, Mayor Muller also announced a partnership with the University of Notre Dame.

“Those connections are critical because we recognize the city and the university’s fates are intertwined,” Mueller says. “And when we work together, we can really make something special.”

“As we think about the university, we want to be in 10 years, 20, 50 years,” explains Shannon Cullinan, executive vice president of Notre Dame. “We know that our goals are not attainable without a flourishing South Bend, and we are clearly stronger together. We at Notre Dame are looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you and to just imagining to possibilities for downtown South Bend and beyond.”

A former Notre Dame alumni said she was embraced by the community during her time here and knew she at one point wanted to give back.

“When I retired from playing basketball and switched careers into real estate development, I made the decision to give back to the community by bringing the project here, and four years later that has finally come to fruition,” said Devereaux Peters, a real estate developer and former Notre Dame basketball player. “I am working on a 66-unit apartment building that would be right around the corner of Michigan and Monroe and it is mostly income housing. 50 units will be low income, 16 will be market rate, so it will be serving for a range of incomes.”