Bringing new rental units online in South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It's no question the City of South Bend needs more housing.

"We're a growing city once again, so we need housing of all types," said Mayor James Mueller.

Monday, Downtown South Bend (DTSB) hosted a ribbon-cutting for The Hill Apartments, a 69-unit upscale rental building.

Rent starts at more than $1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment. Fourteen of the 69 total units are what's called "efficiency" units, intended to be at a more moderate price point. They are studio units starting at just under $1,000.

ABC57's Annie Kate spoke with Caleb Bauer, South Bend's director of community investment, about the need for housing in the city.

"A recent study we did showed the particular areas of need are no surprise, the lowest income residents are in need of significantly more housing units at low-income rates," Bauer said.

Why, then, bring high-end apartments online? Well, Bauer said they also fill a big need.

"Our community is actually missing housing units for high-income earners as well," he said.

The hope, he said, is that high-income earners will move into spots like The Hill, freeing up space for middle-income earners in more moderate units.

"All of that shifting in the market is good," Bauer said, "and we want to have more opportunities to free up units elsewhere in the community."

The new housing is built in what was once a medical office, repurposing a building that otherwise would sit vacant.

"Thrilled to see new life in this building, it's hard to believe this once was a medical office complex," Mueller said.

"When you find an existing building you can repurpose, you're getting your money put to use a lot quicker," said Griffin Johnson, manager for NDQOZB, LLC, the entity that bought the property on the corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Cedar Street.

Johnson said they've invested $14 million into the entire project, which includes some tax increment financing.

"People that work for the city, first responders, people that are teachers, this is a good fit for all of them," he said.

And that's not all for The Hill, Johnson said plans for a "Phase Two" on the adjacent parking lots are in their infancy.

"We have a subdivision approved, where we can do some townhomes on that property," he said. "It'll be an extension of this property and can share some of the same amenities."

It still leaves the high demand for low-income housing unmet. So, ABC57's Annie Kate asked Bauer about the status of other housing projects coming our way.

The Monreaux is a $16 million investment, receiving low-income housing tax credits from the State of Indiana. That project is still in its design phase. South Bend basketball star, Devereaux Peters, is the developer of this 60-unit building, and 46 of those units will be income-qualified.

Another incoming project is the Diamondview and Stadium Flats. That will be 150 units, 60 of which will be considered "affordable housing." Ground breaks on that project, developed by Real America Services, this summer.

The 87, near Notre Dame, has about 300 units, opening before the next academic year. Developed by Toll Brothers, it's an off-campus student living facility.

Finally, South Bend Heritage is involved in a new development, South Bend Thrive, which will be another low-income apartment complex, but details are under wraps right now.

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