Could South Bend City Hall move to former College Football Hall - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Could South Bend City Hall move to former College Football Hall of Fame?

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South Bend Common Council President Derek Dieter said Wednesday afternoon that he'd like to see the old College Football Hall of Fame building turned into a new City Hall.  Dieter said he's been thinking of this idea ever since he first heard the Hall of Fame would be leaving South Bend.

According to Dieter the City of South Bend currently pays $498,591.06 a year for their rent and utilities at the County-City Building, 11 parking locations, the Water Works office space, the Building Department, and Downtown South Bend.  Dieter would like to move all the city offices in the County-City Building, Water Works, Building Department, and DTSB into the former College Football Hall of Fame building.  He said the City already owns the building so the only cost would be to renovate.  But he said he does not know a cost for those renovations.  He admits right now this is just an idea.

There are numerous advantages of a City Hall at the old College Football Hall of Fame, according to Dieter.  "I think this is a fantastic place to have city government.  You are in the downtown area, you're right here basically ground zero." His list also includes a customer friendly setting, parking garage/and or Century Center parking for city employees, more parking for people who need to do business with city government, gridiron provides endless space for community gatherings, council could use theater space for council meetings, and more.

Aaron Perri with Downtown South Bend said it's an idea that should be thrown into the mix with all the other ideas but, "Before it becomes a city hall I think we need to make sure all other options are exhausted, in terms of, the building was designed to be an attraction from day one."

Perri said DTSB is working with the Community Investment Department on aggressively marketing the empty building on a National scale.  He expects an official call for offers to be put out in the next month or two.

Current downtown businesses said they don't want the space to remain empty but they don't think having City Hall there would increase their business, "I don't think that would make too much difference, as far as that goes since the county city building is so close already," said Alicia Shea at Bruno's Pizza.  Donald Willman at Imagine That! said, "I don't think it would help to have city hall there..it would just be more offices, which we already have."

They would prefer a new attraction or new business.  And Dieter said that's his first choice too.  "Of course all of use would like a for profit company to purchase this and start a business here, that'd be great."  He's just offering a back up idea if that doesn't happen.

Mayor Pete Buttigeig sent FOX28 a statement on this idea Wednesday afternoon.  He said, "We have no plans to move City offices at this time.  I am always open to exploring ways to improve City efficiency and reduce costs, and this is the kind of topic that should be part of an ongoing, shared discussion among the administration, Common Council, and County leaders."

So how does Mayor Pete Buttigieg feel about this? We asked the Mayor during his monthly night out event tonight.

"We have no plans at this time to move city offices or city hall," said Mayor Buttigeig. "But what I will say is that its important to keep an open mind about everything that could lead to efficiencies and cost savings so even though there's no plan in the works I'm always open to a conversation. And I hope Councilman Dieter will have a meeting with me, let me know what's on his mind."

The mayor has two goals for the building. The first is to make it an attraction so it could bring a lot of visitors and revenue. And the other option is commercial space for retail and offices. The mayor would like to pick an option that would help pay off the outstanding bonds.

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