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South Bend moves to buy Kelly's Pub to help with road work, safety concerns

With multiple infrastructure projects planned near the South Bend Farmers Market, city leaders have their sights set on buying Kelly’s Pub, a well-known neighborhood watering hole that’s been the site of two serious shootings since 2019.

Soon the cloverleaf interchange connecting State Road 23 and Eddy Street will be redone and the city also has plans for streetscaping road work along Mishawaka Avenue from Eddy Street to the train tracks past Longfellow.

South Bend’s Director of Community Investment Caleb Bauer said that when considering those plans as well as the series of shootings that have Kelly’s a problem property, it made sense to buy the land.

“Certainly we’ve heard concerns from neighbors [about safety] and that’s part of it, but a big piece of it is that there is a lot of activity and infrastructure work coming in that area,” Bauer said.

The city is set to pay $275,000 for the property and could own the land by the end of the month if the needed approvals are granted.

Bauer said the road work coming to Mishawaka Avenue will likely involve adding sidewalks, bike paths or street parking that spill over onto land where Kelly’s currently is, so it would save the city some headaches by just owning the property itself.

The current pub building will be torn down and Bauer said the city’s long term plans for the site are to see it developed into something else that fits the burgeoning neighborhood the city has dubbed the Market District. Nearby stores include Bamber’s food market, Oh Mamma’s cheese shop, the Cloud Walking cafe and the Farmers Market itself.

“We think this is an area of opportunity for redevelopment so the city is being proactive in setting those pieces up with the infrastructure work,” Bauer said. ‘But, there's no imminent economic development deal or abatement to come here.”


In the past few years, Kelly’s has garnered negative attention with multiple violent incidents at the bar.

In July of 2019, Brandon Williams of Niles was killed in a mass shooting in the parking lot of Kelly’s where 10 other people were injured. Between 75 and 100 people had gathered outside the bar that night in a chaotic scene that ended in tragedy and a large angry crowd even showed up to Memorial Hospital afterward.

To this date, no one has been charged in that shooting.

More recently in January, two people were shot when an argument between three people that began inside the bar spilled outside. Armond Davis, 31, is scheduled to stand trial later this spring for that incident.

According to the South Bend Police Department, officers responded to Kelly’s 66 times from the start of 2023 through January 11 of this year, most of which were for loud music complaints.

Don Kelly has owned Kelly’s Pub for the past 18 years and he said when the city approached him about buying the property, he figured it was time to move on.

“It’s not a sudden thing to me. I’m 75, I’m ready to retire and I’m glad the city came along,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the city approached him about buying the property a few months ago and added the recent shootings were a factor in deciding to sell the bar.

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.