Downtown South Bend sees first new office building in more than 20 years

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says when he's up in his office, looking out at downtown South Bend, he sees something missing.

"Notice, you see building, building, building, empty lot," Buttigieg said. "Building, building, building, parking lot. You reflect to yourself, pretty much every parking lot you see out of that window used to be a building full of people, humming with activity."

Now, for the first time in 20 years, those "missing teeth," as Buttigieg calls them, are coming in, starting with Barnes and Thornburg moving their new office right across the street from their first location next to the County-City Building.

"We were in this building for 55 years," Barnes and Thornburg managing partner Philip Faccenda said. "From 1926 to 1981. We moved in 1982 to the new facility."

It's that loyalty to downtown that makes this such an exciting move, bringing in jobs at the office building, opening up new space in their old office at the 1st Source Center and even housing a coffee shop and restaurant on the first floor of the new development, bringing something for everyone.

"This is exactly what we hoped, what we dared to hope South Bend's comeback would look like when we were asking at the beginning of this decade whether it was even possible," Buttigieg said.

And because Barnes and Thornburg has been downtown for nearly 100 years, this is a solid investment, with the company even saying this is going to be their base for a long time.

"This is big for us," Faccenda said. "I don't expect to be at the next Barnes and Thornburg groundbreaking. I probably won't be alive at the next Barnes and Thornburg groundbreaking."

"Any time you can reinforce that relationship, that's the kind of economic development that is the most sticky, the most enduring, and we think that will lead to many good things," Buttigieg said.

Barnes and Thornburg plan on moving in during the summer of 2021. They plan to be at their current office until then.