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Lecture examines South Bend's past, future through photos

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — One photographer is exploring a city’s future through pictures of its past.

Lou Sabo, a longtime photojournalist has spent decades chronicling South Bend’s history through pictures.

“We really have potential for growth here, better than we’ve ever had,” he said.

Saturday he talks the city’s reemerging downtown scene during a lecture at St. Joseph County Library, and looked at some potential growing pains.

“Let’s see some real constant development on building big buildings, skyscrapers if you will,” said Sabo. “I know you can’t just wave a magic wand and get these things and I give credit to our administration and mayor for trying, but we really got to get out there.”

Sabo’s presentation featured many cityscape shots over the years.

He’s now noticing more people are drawn to stay downtown.

“Times change and now with couples both working and smaller families, people want to stay in town at night or live in town,” said Sabo.

A good example of that can be found in the recent apartment boom in the area.

And even across the bridge, the Commerce Center will, too, see at least 140 apartment units built up in a nine-story high rise.

But that development wasn’t approved without a battle.

The final plan was scaled down from 12-stories after the common council voted it down for being too tall.

“In South Bend unfortunately there’s a tedious long debate every time we want to build something and they seem to get the same people who are against all new buildings,” said Sabo.

Sabo says some area planning restrictions maybe halting the city’s progress all while the competing Princess City continues to expand.

Mishawaka officials just broke ground on the Mill at Ironworks in September.

It’s a 232-unit apartment and mixed used development being built near the Riverwalk.

It’s not a bad thing but Sabo says downtown South Bend should be the area’s biggest draw.

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