After Big 2017, South Bend Chamber CEO Bullish on 2018

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Jeff Rea serves as CEO and president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jeff Rea serves as CEO and president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chief executive officer of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce says private investors are sharing his excitement for potential development in the new year. In a column recapping major projects in 2017 and previewing what's on tap for 2018, Jeff Rea discussed work continuing at high profile properties including the former Chase Tower in South Bend, now called Liberty Tower, the Mill at Ironworks Plaza in Mishawaka, the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians' new Four Winds Casino in South Bend and phase one of the New Energy Center in New Carlisle.

Rea's full column:

If you work in construction, 2017 was a busy year. If you were looking for a job, you had many options. If a new place to live was on your agenda, there were no shortage of opportunities. Visiting our area, many new dining or lodging options awaited. 2017 was busy, let me remind you of some of the highlights.

In South Bend, the Liberty Tower (formerly Chase) got a facelift and welcomed Aloft Hotel. Additional residential will follow in the upper floors in 2018. Across the street, the JMS Building got a makeover, and became the latest downtown housing/commercial opportunity. Other landmark downtown properties like Main Street Row, Jefferson Center, One Michiana Square, the Armory, the Schilling Building, and the former Enzyme Research building were transformed.

As if that wasn’t enough, ground was broken on the Berlin Flats project, surrounding Four Winds Field. Century Builders broke ground on a new residential development of the former Transpo site. The Hibberd Building was torn down to its bones and is beginning its rebirth. Each of these downtown projects complement major investments made in recent years in buildings like the former Hoffman and LaSalle Hotels, American Trust Place, and the Citizens Bank and Trust building.

The most visible of all South Bend projects has been the Studebaker Building renovation just south of Four Winds Field. For over 50 years, we’ve watched it deteriorate. No more. Work on the south side of the complex gives us a glimpse of what will happen on the north. Watch for the “envelope” of that building to be completed in 2018.

Downtown Mishawaka is about to be transformed with the Mill at Ironworks Plaza. This 400,00 sq ft, 232 residential/commercial unit construction broke ground in 2017 and will take shape in 2018. It is the largest downtown Mishawaka project since Liberty Mutual built in the 1980s.

On campus, the University of Notre Dame completed one of their biggest construction years ever with the completion of the Campus Crossroads project, as well as Jenkins and Nanovic Hall. The University also started working on Quinn Hall (IDEA Center Expansion) and Walsh Hall, completion of both scheduled for 2018.

The two biggest projects our area has seen in decades have advanced. The Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi Indians are nearing the completion of their new south side Four Winds Casino, watch for a January opening. They’ll employ 1200 people at the start. The New Energy Center in New Carlisle is nearing the completion of phase 1 of their project. Watch for both projects to continue to grow in the coming year.

Three new hotels were opened in Mishawaka in 2017, the Home 2 Suites by Hilton, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood. Also, construction began on the Embassy Suites by Notre Dame, the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown South Bend, and the new Holiday Inn Express on South Bend’s southside. Each anticipate a 2018 opening.

The northwest side of South Bend remains a popular spot for warehousing/logistics projects with the additions of CTDI and AM General in 2017. They join neighbors like Chase Plastics, Hubbell-Raco, Pepsi, Federal Mogul and Fed-Ex who have made their way out there in recent years. AM Generals move north cleared the way for Lippert to occupy their former SPLO facility on Byrkit in Mishawaka.

Restaurants like Potbelly, and Pie Five and Firehouse Subs made their debuts in Mishawaka’s “Golden Corridor.” Portillo’s and Qdoba will follow suit and plan 2018 openings. A new VA Hospital opened in 2017 in Mishawaka’s medical corridor.  New apartments starting construction at Fir Road and the Toll Road and Grandview continued its residential townhomes and flats.

I hope you share my excitement about what 2018 and beyond holds. Private investors sure do, as evidenced by the amount of construction activity in all parts.

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