'Glass house' condos coming to South Bend river front

Published: Mar. 20, 2018 at 6:02 PM EDT
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People who live in glass houses might want to check out what’s going on along the river front in South Bend’s East Bank Neighborhood.

Groundbreaking ceremonies Tuesday marked the start of construction of Three Twenty at the Cascade.

The project will start with a seven-story building that will house up to 17 condos. Each unit will look out over the Century Center Dam, its cascade, and, at night, the river lights.

Given the view, the structure will be made of concrete, steel, and plenty of glass.

It’s expected that the penthouse will fetch more than $1 million.

“Each unit will have ten-foot ceilings, and glass will go from floor to ceiling,” said Tom Panzica with Three Twenty at the Cascade. “At different times of the day it will shimmer and facet like jewels, and as the sun moves across, it’ll be part of the appeal of the downtown, and then at night it will reflect the river lights.”

Lower level units will start in the $525,000 range.

“There are some products in the city that are going for well over $750,000 right now, and we've all heard of people who have bought into various ownership positions In the Notre Dame/ Eddy Street Commons area where millions have been spent,” said Tom Panzica. “So is there that kind of money locally? Definitely.”

Those who can’t afford to live at Three Twenty at the Cascade could still visit a planned 200-seat restaurant expected to occupy the ground floor.

The developers also agreed to give some of their land to the city so its river walk near the development could be wider.

As for the city, officials have no qualms whatsoever about contributing $5 million in public funds to a project that has such a high class housing component.

“If people are going to pay this somewhere else, I'd rather have it here in South Bend it's creating real value for us,” said the Director of South Bend’s Community Investment Department, James Mueller. “We look at all the investment in terms of what are the benefits. This is a real win for the city because the amount of revenues that we're going to get back from this investment is going to far exceed the investment we're putting in upfront.”

After all, the lot in question at 320 E. Colfax has been vacant for about two decades.

“Our belief is if they didn’t think they could get it, they wouldn’t start building,” said Executive Director Jeff Rea at the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. “You know it’s interesting, some in the neighborhood have been priced as high as $700,000. It’s hard to believe, it’s out of my price range, but certainly before they’ve made a major investment they studied the market really close and tried to determine what’s right.”

Work started today on the first-seven story tower. It will house up to 17 condos. Work on a second seven story tower must begin by June of 2021. The second building will be used either for 40 apartments, or as a boutique hotel.

Groundbreaking ceremonies held today to mark the start of the project were high on superstition.

The date is March 20, or 3/20 numerically speaking. The ceremonies took place at exactly 3:20 p.m. on the site which stands at 320 E. Colfax.

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