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South Bend council tables decision on timeline for tax payments for developer Dave Matthews

Photo of the apartment complex at 300 East LaSalle Avenue on Jan. 5, 2023.
Marek Mazurek/WVPE
Photo of the apartment complex at 300 East LaSalle Avenue on Jan. 5, 2023.

Tensions between Dave Matthews and the city of South Bend continue as the developer is asking for another year before the timeline starts on his tax breaks.

South Bend council members on Monday tabled a resolution that would postpone the date by which Dave Matthews will start paying property taxes on his high rise apartment complex. The council will take up the measure again in two weeks.

The request comes despite the active lawsuit against Matthews brought by the city’s redevelopment commission over his delay in opening a grocery store in the property.

The resolution would add another year to the official construction period of the project, since the 10-story, 144-unit apartment complex was delayed by 11 months due to issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, Matthews and the city first agreed to terms on the massive development deal that saw the city give $5 million and a major set of tax breaks that see Matthews paying virtually no property taxes for 10 years. That 10-year abatement period started in 2021, but Matthews is asking for the period to start in 2022, meaning he would begin paying the property taxes in full in 2032.

The resolution tabled by the council will not extend the abatement period itself or change the amount of taxes owed, it would shift when the tax abatement period starts.

Matthews says he's requesting the delay due to the factual circumstances that the apartments were finished 11 months later than anticipated and because he needs more time to get his grocery store off the ground. The store — called the East Race Market — opened in January after the deadline to do so expired, leading to the city's lawsuit. Matthews says the store is currently losing money.

Matthews and his supporters pointed out that the common council has changed the tax timelines for 14 others projects that were delayed by the pandemic.

The resolution is sponsored by council members Oliver Davis and Sherry Bolden Simpson. But, in a statement sent to the council, mayor James Mueller indicated he is opposed to the measure given the lawsuit and says Matthews already has over $500,000 of unpaid property taxes.

Matthews says if the proposal before the council were to pass, those property taxes would be wiped away.

The lawsuit against Matthews is active as of Monday, though there has been no filings in the case for months.

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.