Common Council denies tax abatement extension for Matthews LLC

NOW: Common Council denies tax abatement extension for Matthews LLC

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On Monday the South Bend Common Council voted to deny a one-year extension to a tax abatement for Matthews LLC, the developer behind the East Race Market and 300 East LaSalle apartment buildings.

The reasoning comes down to what was discussed in a meeting two weeks prior, with some members of the council saying that granting the extension would not be holding Matthews accountable for delays on his projects, and nearly $600,000 in unpaid property taxes.

In Monday's meeting, Councilmember Sherri Bolden-Simpson, who's pushed for the extension, presented a slideshow of the benefits of Matthews' developments and explained some causes of the delays, including the effects of the pandemic on all developers.

That was followed by numerous members of the public including local business owners and city residents who spoke in favor of granting Matthews the extension, citing the success of his developments and how they've improved downtown.

In response to neighbors' concerns, Matthews proposed a 'Memorandum of Understanding', promising he will pay off 100% of the unpaid property taxes on the Commerce Center Development among other promises. Some council members said those promises were already made in the past.

Leading up to Monday, Matthews said if the extension was not granted, it would likely lead to the East Race Market closing. Now, he still has those worries.

"The city maybe sees the opportunity to say 'Hey, they already built the building, so if we take this away, the building's already built,' But the ripple effects, the consequences of that are severe. It's definitely scary for outside developers and people looking to invest in South Bend," says Matthews.

Councilmember Davis says he will be working to revise and bring this bill back to the table come August, and other councilmembers say they believe some sort of compromise still needs to be reached.

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