South Bend purchases land from school corporation, could turn into homeless intake center

NOW: South Bend purchases land from school corporation, could turn into homeless intake center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The South Bend Redevelopment Commission has approved the purchase of a five-acre lot from the South Bend Community School Corporation, as a potential site for a homeless intake center.

However, the Bendix Drive Property still needs to go through several steps before the site is fully committed to that purpose.

There’s been hours of meetings and public comment since the redevelopment commission first considered buying the property.

Thursday morning, the commission voted 5-1 in favor of the $277,000 purchase.

The purchase does not guarantee the site to be the home for the low barrier New Day intake center.

Caleb Bauer//

"It is not a done deal; we still need those other official approvals before this use can move forward. We are committed to working with neighbors, meeting with neighbors, and stakeholders,” said Caleb Bauer, South Bend’s Executive Director of Community Development.

While the city hopes this is the first step to adding a low barrier intake center to South Bend.

Mayor James Mueller said in a statement, “I thank the Redevelopment Commission for voting favorably on the issue at hand today. Having an option for the New Day Center is a step forward, as we continue to explore other sites.”

Rezoning for the Bendix Drive site still needs to be approved by the planning and zoning commission and South Bend Common Council.

Then, the redevelopment commission would need to sell the property to the New Day Center, which still needs to reach their fundraising goal.

Right now, they are 57% there.

Donations can be made here.

Both supporters and critics lined up to speak before the vote.

A member of the commission said this is one of the most important issues that has come before them.

Eli Wax was the only commissioner to vote against the acquisition.

"I think it would be proper to continue these conversations. And see if we can design it in a way that would make it a win-win before we move forward... and that's why I supported continuing it... that's not what the other commissioners felt. They wanted to proceed forward and have those conversations later,” said Wax, who still has questions.

County Commissioner Derek Dieter asked for the purchase to be delayed at least 30 days, so a new bipartisan task force could search for alternate locations.

Dieter said despite the vote moving forward, it will not change the group’s mission.

"It really doesn't change what we are doing, we're still going to look at several options and present that to the mayor. But again, that's their call,” Dieter said.

The city said although they believe the intake center is the best use for the five acres, they are still open to hearing other suggestions from the task force and will find other industrial uses for the spot on Bendix if needed.

"We've got it now, and we want to work towards planning around the intake center, but if a better site arises we would look to dispose of this property through a sale for an industrial use... much like the redevelopment commission does on other properties,” said Bauer after Thursday’s meeting.

The discussion is not even close to over.

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