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Local developers look to renovate former Monarch Printing building on Michigan Street

 Historic Monarch Printing Building
Photo courtesy of South Bend Historic Preservation Commission
Historic Monarch Printing building seen in 2022

Located on Michigan Street just south of the Marathon gas station, the former Monarch Printing building has stood since 1921, though it’s seen better days.

The brown bricks and white window trim on the structure’s facade remain bright, but the street level windows and bricks on the rest of the building betray that the building has been vacant for over a decade.

But all that could soon change thanks to two local developers.

On Monday, Charity Stowe and Rachel Mospan went before the South Bend Common Council to share their vision to renovate the dilapidated property.

“To me these buildings need people to invest in them so that we’re not going to tear them down. Because they are valuable to the character of our downtown neighborhoods,” Stowe said.

Stowe is originally from South Bend and recently moved back into the Monroe Park neighborhood from Indianapolis. She now works as a contractor and is drawn to projects that preserve the character of urban neighborhoods and prevent gentrification.

That passion led Stowe to co-found Herstoric Development along with Mopsan and the pair are hoping to renovate the Monarch building with an eye toward the community it sits in. On the ground floor, the pair envision commercial space for local businesses and on the upper level, they’re aiming for a handful of affordably priced apartment units.

“I felt it was important that we recognize there’s an existing community here that needs affordability and rents. They want to stay and be able to benefit from the improvements that happen in the neighborhood,” Stowe said.

Stowe and Mopsan are looking to put about $570,000 into the project and they’re also seeking help from the city in the form of tax abatements. On Monday the council gave preliminary approval for the credits which will total around $45,000 over the next 6 years.

Erik Glavich, South Bend’s director of growth and opportunity, said the city supports the renovations for a number of reasons. Preserving a historic building is a plus and city planners hope the project leads to new life for other buildings along Michigan Street.

“When you’re looking at areas like this, it’s almost a domino effect,” Glavich said. “It kind of shows people this is a viable neighborhood and it’s transforming and it’s inspiring others.”

The area south of downtown is already gearing up for growth with over 100 apartment units slated to be built over the coming years between the Diamond View Apartments near Four Winds Field and the Monreaux apartments just across the street from the Monarch building.

It’s also not the first renovation project in Monroe Park for the duo of Herstoric Development. Stowe said she’s fixed up two small homes already, but the Monarch Printing building is a new challenge she’s excited for.

The building was originally an electric repair shop but then served as the Monarch printing firm’s headquarters until 1935. Various other tenants occupied the space until 1980 when a fire gutted much of the interior. In the late 80s, it was a musical instrument store but it’s been used for storage or has been vacant since then.

And Stowe said she’s excited to add to that history in the coming years.

“It’s an attractive, historic commercial building that can be brought back to life,” said Stowe.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.