Surface level parking lots currently take up most of the land in the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street in downtown South Bend, creating an island between the Morris Performing Arts Center and Memorial Hospital.
The city’s Director of Community Investment Caleb Bauer called that stretch a “wasteland,” but that could soon change.
Over the coming weeks, South Bend’s Board of Public Works and Redevelopment Commission will consider a series of development deals with Beacon Health Systems and Great Lakes Capital which could revitalize that whole area.
Plans that were first announced in 2021 are nearing fruition in a project that is poised to bring in 200 apartments, a 100-bed hotel, retail and office space and more parking.
“Those were two blocks of downtown that were essentially wiped out. We’re hoping to build an urban environment in those blocks and replace surface parking with active use, with housing units and a vibrant, new part of our downtown,” Bauer said.
Beacon got the ball rolling as they move forward with a separate massive $230 million endeavor to build a new patient tower at Memorial Hospital. That project is estimated to create 500 new jobs, which adds a need for living and parking space for the influx of people likely coming to downtown in the next decade.
Beacon also owns the land south of the hospital where the new housing and retail space will go and Bauer said the plan is for Beacon to sell that land to the city and then for the city to turn around and sell it to Great Lakes Capital as part of a connected agreement.
“We would look at a lower than market value price,” Bauer said. “But then there would be significant commitments to allow for that.”
The total cost of the development could total around $150 million making it the largest redevelopment project in downtown. Of that 150 million Bauer said the city is looking at providing $24 million for the project in TIFF bonds and that’s in addition to another $11.78 million from the state in the form of READI Grants.
Bauer said a portion of the apartments will have income qualifications while the parking garages will be enclosed in the new buildings, much like the parking garage at Eddy Street Commons.
Though the city is not providing any direct funding for Beacon’s to build its new tower, the city will demolish the South Bend Medical foundation building at the corner of Navarre and Main to make room for a new parking garage that will benefit Beacon workers.
City staff hope to have the development agreements ready for the redevelopment commission’s approval at its next meeting on Feb. 22. Already, the commission approved a little over $300,000 for design work to continue as the larger deals get hashed out.
Redevelopment commission member Eli Wax said he’s excited to see the development agreements and underscored the scope of the proposed builds.
“I do think this is an extremely important project. I’m so excited about the potential that it has,” Wax said.
Officials also noted that the Main Street project coming on the heels of the University of Notre Dame buying the former South Bend Tribune building could signal a construction boom in the north of downtown.
“This will be one of the largest, if not the largest, downtown redevelopment project. And we’re really excited to see it getting close to the finish line here,” Bauer said. If the redevelopment commission signs off the deals in a timely manner, construction would get underway at the start of 2025.
Great Lakes Capital has multiple projects in the Michiana area. Most recently the company embarked on a new $175 million expansion to its Grandview Development off of Gumwood Road in Granger