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Western Avenue is open, now more plans are underway

SOUTH BEND, Ind.- Smoother streets, attractive store fronts and more all along Western Avenue in South Bend, a street that Mayor Pete Buttigieg says is the best way to drive into the city.

“There’s been a lot of need on the west side, but also a lot of investment on the west side from our administration and this is an example of it,” says Mayor Pete.

On Tuesday Mayor Pete, council members and community leaders came together to celebrate Western Avenue being open and to announce revamps will continue further north.

“We’re going to turn more attention to Lincolnway West,” says the mayor. “That’s a corridor that’s ready for more investment and we’ll continue to investigate whether there are more areas that benefit from this treatment.”

During the construction phase inconveniences came about, but with the completed project that has changed.

“Now that it’s done you can see the benefit,” says Mayor Pete. “The first time we made changes, a lot of uncertainty and complaints, but the end the only complaint was, ‘Why haven’t you don’t this for more of Western?’”

Sam Centellas, the executive director of La Casa de Amistad, says this project has multiple phases and they’re just getting started. “Some of it is doing the flowers, the banners, the signs, events programs so it’s a really organic project.”

“Our job is to creative conditions where business owners like Nancy want to keep investing on the west side.” Mayor Pete is talking about Nancy Felton. Felton is the owner of Bonitas, a business that since 2005 has mixed culture and fashion.

“We have more customers coming in because they see the difference.” Felton says during construction, foot traffic was lacking and business plummeted.

“Before it was like 25 percent, but it’s a lot better.”

Many describe Western Avenue as an artery that brings people in from Chicago or Michigan City, but the plan here is to have it be something much more than just an avenue.

“We want them to know that they can stop here and buy clothes or groceries,” says Centellas. “That it’s a destination not just a road.”

Mayor Pete says $150,000 is going to be used for facade improvements along Western.

If you missed the ribbon cutting ceremony, Chico’s Mexican and American Restaurant is hosting an event Wednesday.

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