Project encourages SB to share ideas for revitalizing downtown - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Project encourages SB to share ideas for revitalizing downtown

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A new project in Downtown South Bend is encouraging people to share their ideas for bringing life back into the city.

Willow Wetherall has been living in South Bend for 12 years. She says she enjoys the opportunity to express what she wants to see in downtown, "I love seeing all these great ideas, it's really fun."

Many others have jumped on board with this downtown project and are offering ideas of what they would do with the vacant buildings. "I think it would also give people who are interested in starting a business some ideas that maybe they haven't considered," says Willow.

"I think it's an excellent idea, we need to do something to generate income in South Bend," says Michael Amberg.

Project facilitators Mara Trionfero and Drew Elegante put tags on empty downtown buildings, hoping to get the community involved in bringing life back to the city. The tags say "I wish this was..." and anyone walking by is encouraged to fill in the blank. "We hear a lot of ideas about development from a lot of people who are developers. So what does the rest of the town think?" says Trionfero.

They say this gives everyone a forum to share what they want. "I want to make sure everyone has an opportunity for their voice to be heard," says Trionfero.

"So many different populations that are really under-represented in the downtown and there's so much opportunity and I think this could highlight that," says Elegante.

They've seen examples of this project in other cities, but neither expected it to take off like it has. "Some of them I go by like "Yes! I never really thought of that," says Trionfero.

The tags have a variety of ideas, from restaurants to dance clubs. "There's enough restaurants and bars and cafe's that we need retail stores," says Amberg.

"I would like to see an upscale lingerie store," says Willow.

And all ideas are welcomed. "I think it's a really wonderful way to get people involved," says Willow.

Trionfero and Elegante say they hope to compile all the ideas and perhaps spread them to entrepreneurs in the area.

They are keeping record of all the ideas on their blog. To stay up-to-date on the ideas generated and post your own, click here.

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