By Kelli Stopczynski (email@example.com)
6:08 PM EST, January 8, 2013
SOUTH BEND – Picture this: live entertainment, public events and a new outdoor space to accommodate all of it in South Bend.
It’s part of a plan to bring a new outdoor plaza downtown to the southwest corner of Jefferson Blvd. and Michigan St.
“We’re building our downtown area and trying to draw more people into it,” said Sheri Foote, an employee at Ehninger Florist. “It’s a great thing for our businesses and the community. It’s wonderful.”
The city agreed to spend roughly $295,000 in TIF (Tax Increment Financing) money to pay for part of the plaza, but a group of private investors known as 112 West Jeff LLC is kicking in $6 million of its own for the project. The space would also be upgraded with new lighting and landscaping.
That specific corner of Jefferson and Michigan also has historical significance downtown. Before 112 West Jeff bought the building located at 112 W. Jefferson and the plaza next to it, it was owned by Wells Fargo Bank. The Studebaker Brothers’ very first production facility was located on the same corner.
“I think for any city to have something like that is pretty great,” said Jeff Walters, who works downtown. “For South Bend and this area it looks like it would be a nice place to develop, might bring a lot more people here.”
A plaza on that corner isn’t a new concept. In fact, it used to be called the Wells Fargo Plaza and consisted of space for musicians to play or people to eat lunch and enjoy the outdoors.
Renderings or drawings of the new plaza design don’t exist yet because the design process is the next phase in the project. The Redevelopment Commission is expected Thursday to approve $3,000 of the $295,000 it already granted toward the project for the design.
“I’m new to the area, so I’ve just seen a tremendous amount of change in one year from when I moved here – in the progressiveness and the new shops and the involvement of the community downtown,” Foote said.
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