Connecting Dinosaurs, Chocolate And Trains in South Bend

Posted: Updated:
Mark Tarner co-founded South Bend Chocolate Co. in 1991. Mark Tarner co-founded South Bend Chocolate Co. in 1991.
SOUTH BEND -

One of the early players in South Bend's downtown revitalization has a new vision for the suburbs. South Bend Chocolate Co. owner Mark Tarner is moving forward on a proposal detailed earlier this year for a 90-acre attraction featuring a new production facility, chocolate museum, Indiana Dinosaur Museum, restaurant and bison farm, as well as a new piece -- a South Shore rail line station. He expects work on the property near South Bend International Airport to begin in April and the finished project, Tarner says the project would serve as a key component to creating a "destination station" that combines tourism, transportation and dining components.

The concept of adding a train station, Tarner says, was broached by an unnamed government official and has not yet been formally introduced. The South Bend Tribune reports a study commissioned by the city to explore alternative routes for the South Shore Line's high-profile, double-tracking and relocation project will include a look at a potential pathway for the aforementioned station.

Tarner, an amateur paleontologist, thinks mixed-use housing and hotels could sprout up as a result of development. He believes the project could be a major draw for families. The full scope of his vision, which is expected to cost between $10 million to $14 million, would be "sort of green and cosmopolitan at the same time," and would bring in travelers heading north to Traverse City, Michigan or west to Chicago. Tarner says the area could ultimately grow into something similar to Eddy Street Commons near the University of Notre Dame or some developments that incorporate retail and various housing options in Indianapolis or Carmel. The dinosaur museum plan has landed a $500,000 boost from the statewide Regional Cities Initiative and Tarner says it has also received community support.

Tarner opened his company downtown in 1991 as a second business. It has since grown to include 11 company-owned stores and four franchises in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. "I put a 10,000 square-foot store in our downtown and brought in families -- it's one of our chocolate cafes, we (also) have a smaller version on the Circle (in downtown Indianapolis) -- and what I did was really a proof-of concept and I did it probably when I shouldn't have done it. Now, I think they call it new urbanism. When I did it, they called it stupidity and I think everyone thought I was going to go bankrupt," he chuckled. "And now, they're building a new Marriott hotel behind us." Tarner believes the urban resurgence that has taken hold in South Bend, Indianapolis and elsewhere will spread out to suburban areas like the area he's planning the new attraction, too, "and I'm betting everything I've saved on it."

South Bend Chocolate Co. Co-Founder Mark Tarner, an amateur paleontologist, thinks mixed-use housing and hotels could sprout up as a result of development.
  • Perspectives

    • We’re Having the Wrong Conversations About Safety

      Every time there’s a shooting at a school or a workplace, the arguments begin. We need more police officers stationed in the buildings. We need to arm teachers or encourage employees to carry handguns. We should invest in smokescreen systems or bulletproof partitions. Everyone should hide from the shooter. Everyone should run from the shooter. Everyone should confront the shooter. It’s healthy that we’re discussing safety, but unfortunately, we’re talking...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Forbes Ranks Top Colleges; 3 Indiana Schools Make the Cut

      Forbes released its 12th annual ranking of America’s Top Colleges based on direct benefits a university or college provides its students. Several Indiana universities made the list in some “sub-categories”, like Grateful Graduates Index, but the University of Notre Dame was the only school in the state to break the top 20 overall rankings.

    • West Lafayette Center Breaks Ground

      West Lafayette city officials this week broke ground on the $31.5 million West Lafayette Wellness and Aquatic Center at Cumberland Park. Plans for the 72,000-square-foot project feature a natatorium, three gymnasiums, exercise machines, free weights and community rooms. 

    • Butler Unveils New Building for Lacy School

      The president of Butler University says the new building for the Lacy School of Business will create better engagement for students and faculty. The university unveiled the building Wednesday on the Indianapolis campus. James Danko says the new facility adds five times the classroom space and square footage for the school, which previously didn't have enough space for half of its classes. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Danko called...

    • Caito Foods was founded in 1965.

      Caito Foods to Cut Jobs

      Michigan-based SpartanNash (Nasdaq: SPTN) has decided to discontinue the Indianapolis-based Caito Fresh Kitchen operations. The grocery retailer-distributor acquired Caito Foods Service in January 2017 for $217 million. The company broke ground on its $32 million fresh kitchen process facility in 2015. 

    • Photo courtesy of Portillo's

      Portillo's to Open Fort Wayne Location

      Portillo's Restaurant has announced it will open a new 7,800-square-foot restaurant in Fort Wayne. The location will be near the Glenbrook Square Mall and is slated to open in late 2019.