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Development Firm Proposes Affordable Housing Near Downtown South Bend

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

A vacant lot near Four Winds Field could one day serve as affordable housing in downtown South Bend.

Indianapolis-based development firm Real America has proposed a three-building plan for the lot, which is currently owned by the city. The firm previously renovated the LaSalle Hotel building into apartments in 2015.


Vice President of Development Jeff Ryan said the plan for 504 S. Lafayette Blvd. would offer 127 units – 60 apartments and seven townhouses at market rate, and 60 apartments whose rent would be below the area median income of roughly $40,000.


“We’re designing something specific to downtown South Bend,” Ryan said at the common council meeting on June 28. “We aren’t just recycling something that’s been used before.”


Ryan said rents for the affordable units would likely range from $320–$1000 a month, while market pricing would be comparable to the nearby Ivy apartment complex. He said developers also hope to partner with the Logan Center to provide 12 apartments for physically and intellectually disabled tenants.


The common council passed a resolution Monday night granting an eight-year tax abatement for the project after receiving assurance that local contractors would be involved.


“It really would have been pretty easy for a developer to purchase this land and build high-end housing right next to the ballpark,” Councilwoman Rachel Tomas Morgan said. “But this is a project that brings diversity together as neighbors, and I do believe that kind of diversity in neighborhoods is what a thriving city looks like.”


Councilman Henry Davis Junior – whose district covers the proposed site – was the only council member to vote against the measure.


“What I do know is that the people I represent cannot afford these properties,” Davis said.


The abatement will go into effect only if the project receives a low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) from the state. At the council meeting, Director of Community Investment Santiago Garces said those credits are “highly competitive,” and South Bend hasn’t received one since 2014. 


If approved, the credit would require the city to match at least 10 percent of the developer’s investment and commit at least $100,000 of site improvements within a quarter mile of the project.


The state will announce LIHTC recipients in November.


Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.


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