Results released in Study to find out how to bring more people t - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Results released in Study to find out how to bring more people to Downtown South Bend


How can you get more people to live in Downtown South Bend?  It's been a question city leaders have been asking for years.  But first they had to find out if there was enough interest out there.  Now the City has some answers.  The results of a Downtown Housing Market study were released Thursday night.

It's good news for South Bend.  The firm who conducted this study said there is actually a lot of potential in Downtown South Bend.

Grace Hanel already lives in Downtown South Bend.  "I enjoy the idea that I can walk to Downtown." 

The City wants more people to be like Grace and move Downtown.  Earlier this year they hired Zimmerman/Volk Associates to conduct a study to determine the residential market potential for Downtown South Bend.  Now that the study is done, it's good news.  "There are about 1,000 houses every year that represent the potential market for new housing in Downtown," said Laurie Volk with Zimmerman/Volk Associates.

Put simply, there's a lot of people out there who would be interested in living in a Downtown atmosphere.  Empty nesters and retirees but mostly young people.  Volk said, "80 percent of the potential market are young people."

So why are all these interested people not already living in Downtown?  Hanel says there needs to be more businesses to draw people to the area.  Her friend Zachary Hornback agrees.  "There isn't a lot of variety.  The bars are pretty much dive bars or sports bars...diversity in restaurants, more shops would be great," said Hornback.

Volk said what actually needs to come first is housing.  "We've found that housing comes before retail."  So that's what she says the city needs to work on.  "Definitely need more housing in Downtown."

Mayor Pete Buttigieg admits he's heard people say they want more downtown shops before they'd move in, but it may just have to be done the other way around.  "There's a bit of a chicken and egg to it but what the research has shown is if you have the people then the retail options are going to materialize."

Now that the city has this data Mayor Buttigieg says it will allow them to structure their future planning and policy in a way that supports the creation of Downtown housing.

According to the study the kind of housing the city needs to work on the most are lofts or apartments people can rent for a monthly rate of anywhere between $800-$2,750.

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