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South Bend Common Council approves $200,000 for Drewrys Brewery cleanup

NOW: South Bend Common Council approves $200,000 for Drewrys Brewery cleanup

SOUTH BEND, Ind. —- On Monday, the South Bend Common Council approved $200,000 from the city’s reserve funds to start the clean up process at Drewrys Brewery. 

According to the Department of Code Enforcement, this is the first time the city has dedicated a large sum of money to the clean-up efforts at the former brewery on Elwood Avenue. After the city’s order on February 7 to clean up the site, Deputy Director Marlaina Johns said the owner does not have any interest in actually following through with the project.

“Now the city is trying to help make sure the neighborhood is helped out by freeing up some funds to go in and be able to clean it up,” she said. 

On Thursday, Johns said the city will ask the redevelopment commission for $200,000 in TIF funds. Johns said if the total $400,000 does not cover the cleanup, depending on the price, code enforcement might be able to take care of the rest. 

If the price exceeds $50,000, Johns said the department will ask the city for more funds. Carl Grant Sr., a near northwest side neighbor, called the clean up a wonderful move. 

“It makes the neighborhood look bad and it’s just a good thing they’re getting it all done,” he said. 

According to Johns, the clean up of the rubble from a past demolition in 2017 and a couple of fires in between, will be completed by July. However, the current owner has until June to complete the demolition and remove the remaining standing buildings. 

“If he doesn’t do it then we’re able to go in and take care of them,” Johns said. 

She said code enforcement has more than 100 affirmed demolition orders. The department budgets for 20 to 25 demolitions each year. 

Johns said the department is happy the city offered to find these funds because the Drewrys process has taken them out of their comfort zone. 

“It is such a large amount and it’ll be basically our whole budget for the year if we had to put all the money towards Drewrys,” Johns said. 

The city issued the owner $45,000 in civil penalties back in 2017 for failing to complete the demolition. John said that number has grown. 

She said the city is worried once they clean up the site that the owner will sell it. Johns said if the owner does sell essentially the new owner will pay the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and penalties owed on top of unpaid property taxes. 

The building and its debris have been an eyesore for years to neighbors. But Gerardo Martinez said he still has hope that what replaces the site will revitalize the neighborhood. 

“Yeah it doesn’t look nice but let’s see what will happen,” Martinez said. 

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