Car wash to be built on empty lot in South Bend, neighbors concerned

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - An empty lot on South Bend’s northeast side may soon house a car wash.

Tsunami Express Car Wash has gone to the City Commission and Common Council to get additional rezoning approved so that they can tear down a home next to the lot.

Monday night, the Common Council approved the rezoning, but neighbors in the area are wary about the move.

Yvonne Caffery and Jamie Zygulski remember the old self-service car wash that took up this vacant lot.

“A lot of kids hanging out there at night doing drugs. Police were always over there,” Caffrey said.

They tell ABC57 that’s a major worry as this new car wash moves in.

“If it’s going to be anything like it used to be. It’s going to be bad,” she said. “They’re going to hang out there like they did before.”

A sentiment other neighbors share.

“It concerns me to know what kind of activity might be going on there, what kind of traffic late at night,” Nicole Carmon said.

But District 4 Common Council member Troy Warner said this new car wash will be much different.

Tsunami Express will be a manned car wash and will operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of 24/7.

“At night when they close, they’ll close the gates off so people can’t go in and loiter around in the parking lot,” Warner said.

A rezoning effort that would’ve demolished two homes was originally voted down by the city plan commission unanimously last week.

But the company changed it to just one home and Monday night the common council approved the rezoning.

“My vote on that is to take advantage of that and do what we can do to protect the neighborhood from encroachment from the business,” he said.

Even if the council voted no, Warner wants to emphasize that the company still could’ve built their business there since the lot is already zoned commercial.

“I saw this as an opportunity to make some changes to the project that would keep traffic out of the neighborhood, create a buffer there with additional trees and fencing to kind of isolate the car wash from the neighborhood a little bit,” he said. “And then to beautify it with all brick and then the security of the gate.”

The council addressed traffic concerns neighbors had as well by making sure the developer closes the entrance on chimes

“So, traffic wouldn’t go back into the neighborhood,” he said.

And Warner said the tax revenue will be good for the city.

“In the end, there’s an individual from outside that wants to put $2.5 to $3 million in our community, right, create half a dozen jobs and pay $13,000 to $15,000 in property taxes every year,” he said.

“Anything to bring positivity, good around here is awesome, I just don’t want it to turn bad,” Carmon said.

Tsunami Express has not announced exactly when they plan to start work here, but ABC57 will keep you updated on any developments.

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