Developers will break ground today on the transformation of the former Studebaker plant in South Bend. The four-phase, $165 million Renaissance District project would be among the largest mixed-use technology campuses in the Midwest and boost the entrepreneurship, innovation and STEM prospects in the manufacturing-heavy region. Union Station Technology Center Chief Executive Officer Kevin Smith says tech companies are "waiting to get in the door" once the first phase is complete, likely later this year.
Thursday’s groundbreaking involves overhaul of two buildings where the manufacturer cranked out cars until the early 1960s. Plans call for coworking, education, retail, lab, manufacturing and multi-tenant office spaces. Governor Mike Pence and Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb are set to take part in the event. The effort received a $23 million boost last month.
Union Station Technology Center and Indianapolis-based development firm Strongbox Commercial LLC are partnering on the project through a joint venture called RDistrict One LLC. The Renaissance District is a major component of the north central region’s $732 million Regional Cities Initiative plan.
Smith says the ultimate goal is to have the tech center span more than one million square feet on 30 acres. He says tenants waiting to move in include an Irish company producing a "re-invented" beer cup and a startup making boat lifts. He says several other companies have approached developers about leasing space in the complex.
Smith says Renaissance District aims to "set the bar pretty high" in hopes that other Indiana communities will develop similar projects.
This story will be updated today.
Smith says he’s happy to build on the Studebaker legacy.