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South Bend aims to encourage infill housing with pre-approved building plans

South Bend Mayor James Mueller introduced the city's plans to encourage infill housing development at a press conference on Monday, Aug. 29.
Gemma DiCarlo

A new initiative from the city of South Bend aims to make infill housing easier to build.

The city recently launched an online catalog with full building plans for seven different types of housing. Director of Neighborhood Health and Housing Elizabeth Maradik said each building type was designed with the city’s vacant lots in mind.

“The architecture and scale of each building was developed so that they could fit into existing residential neighborhoods,” she said. “The focus of the designs was to make sure there was simplicity, functionality — as well as that they could stand the test of time and making sure that they were cost-effective.”

Each plan set includes three facade variations, cost estimates and a zoning guide.

Developers will still need to acquire a permit before building any of the pre-approved homes. But city officials say using those plans can save home builders $300-500,000 in design costs.

“The only way to tackle housing affordability is to build more housing units — and that induces single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes and larger-scale units, as well,” Mayor James Mueller said.

The city’s catalog includes designs for two to four-bedroom single-family homes, as well as carriage houses, duplexes and small apartment buildings.

“What I’m most excited about, quite frankly, is the duplex,” developer Mike Keen said. “And the reason for that is that in these neighborhoods, if we can make every homeowner also a landlord, now they not only have an additional income stream, but they’re providing affordable housing themselves to the neighborhood.”

Developers and individuals can apply to use the city’s pre-approved building plans online.

Contact Gemma at or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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