Leaders of an Elkhart-based downtown planning initiative have announced results of several “significant” commercial investments. Save Our Main Assets says new businesses expected to open within the next few months include two restaurants. The organization also announced the completion of some office space and loft apartment renovations in the city. February 17, 2014
ELKHART, Ind. – SoMa, the community-driven initiative for revitalization in downtown Elkhart, held a press conference at the Lerner Theatre Friday morning to help create regional awareness of SoMa's “Live. Work. Play.” initiatives to attract more interest, activity and investment in the downtown.
Following remarks by Elkhart's Mayor Dick Moore who recognized SoMa and its community partners' efforts in their collaborative efforts to build community, SoMa chair Diana Lawson thanked the Mayor for his support and for appointing the SoMa study group to define the challenges and solutions for invigorating the downtown.
“The result of SoMa's two-year study is a plan that recognizes the value of creating an awareness of the tremendous assets in downtown Elkhart, and a community that is engaged and excited to be working collaboratively to activate the SoMa plan,” Lawson said. “We're pleased to say that the energy the process has generated is resulting in significant commercial investment in our downtown.”
SoMa, which originally stood for South Main, evolved into “Supporting Our Main (Street) Assets” after the study group realized that downtown's Arts & Entertainment district extends from the Wellfield Botanic Gardens on North Main, past Ruthmere Museum, the Nibco Water & Ice Part, the Lerner and the Midwest Museum of American Art, to the National New York Central Railroad Museum on South Main. That one-mile corridor has been named the RiverWalk Culture Trail.
Dan Boecher, executive director of Downtown Elkhart, Inc. (DEI), chair of SoMa's residential study sub-committee and manager of SoMa's “Work. Live.” initiatives shared with the media and press conference attendees recent investment in both commercial business downtown as well as new residential opportunities. Local businessman Patrick Hopman has completed the renovation of four loft apartments along Main Street that are priced at market rate. Boecher announced that Kurt Janowsky, local entrepreneur of Caf? Navarre in South Bend and of the Crystal Ballroom and the Matterhorn in Elkhart will be opening a new restaurant in downtown Elkhart in the former Flytrap's location on Main Street in downtown Elkhart. DEI is focusing on downtown real estate services, business incentives and the management of SoMa business development initiatives
David Smith, general manager of the restored Lerner Theatre — which has been the catalyst for much of the interest and energy evident in downtown Elkhart now — is manager of SoMa's “Play.” initiative strategies. He announced the line-up for the 2014 ArtWalk Wednesday and Lunchtime Live events, and as co-chair of the Elkhart Jazz Festival, announced that the Saturday evening headliner for the 2014 Jazz Fest will be Aaron Neville, noted American R+B artist with four platinum albums and three top-20 Billboard hits. Smith noted that all these entertainment offerings are designed to create an awareness that downtown Elkhart is a fun place to Live. Work. Play. for Elkhart area residents and visitors alike.
In closing Lawson noted that “by creating awareness of downtown's rich cultural assets along the RiverWalk Culture Trail, we enhance community pride in our downtown and encourage private investment as we work together to promote our City’s quality of life by combining the best of the past with the excitement of the future. Our mantra has become: Soma values community, supports collaboration and delivers results.”