ND students discuss South Bend becoming a "college town" - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

ND students discuss South Bend becoming a "college town"

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It's been an on-going debate for years, what can the city of South Bend and the University of Notre Dame do together to help each other prosper?

Notre Dame Architecture students say they see some great potential in the city.

However, based on one experts opinion, who wrote a book on the matter, South Bend isn't even a college town right now. Meanwhile cities like Bloomington, IN and Ann Arbor, MI do fit the label. The architecture students say South Bend is close though.

"I think South Bend wants to be a college town," said ND Professor Lucien Steil. "The city just doesn't know it yet."

Answering how to get that point was the goal of Professor Steil and some of his Notre Dame Architecture students at a lecture Wednesday night. The students talked to the community about what could be done to help South Bend flourish as a college town.

Students say they've already seen the transformation start with success at Eddy St. Commons and there's no reason to stop there.

"There's a lot of voices and people that are submitting proposals and I think it's starting to happen," said ND Senior Patrick Hess. "I think over the next couple years we'll see a lot of big things happening."

How easy would the change to "college town" actually be? The Notre Dame students say building a shopping area, similar to the one on Eddy St., along the river of Downtown South Bend would be a great start.

Gavin Ferlic, a South Bend Common Councilman, says he likes seeing this type of effort from local students, because it's a market the city wants to tap more into.

"We have close to 30000 college students living in our community," said Ferlic. "The more we can engage universities and really promote both the city and these universities the better off we're going to be."

There are still some concerns about Downtown South Bend from students when it comes to proximity, available public transportation and safety though. Even with a few obstacles for both sides to tackle, they feel the potential is there to improve downtown's relationship.

"You have to look at the place, not what it is with all it's problems, but what it could be in it's best," said Stiel. "I think South Bend could be a really, really beautiful place. Much more beautiful then it is now."

Members from the city's urban development department were also on hand. They say some early results from a survey they are conducting show that young professionals and college students would be target groups for downtown housing projects.

Over the past few months there have been several events talking about bridging the gap between Notre Dame and South Bend.

Just last week the city finished conducting a survey asking college students what they'd like to see from the city. Not long before that at a "Town and Gown" event, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg talked to students about building a stronger relationship between the two sides.

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