Multi-million dollar South Bend-Elkhart region projects receive go-ahead

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The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has approved Regional Cities Initiative funding to support the development of the Blue Ways and East Bank Village in South Bend. In addition, the IEDC has approved funding for the establishment of both the Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center and the Tech Training Center in South Bend.

Overall the projects have a value of more than $153 million, according to the IEDC news release.

“As Indiana businesses continue to expand and create Hoosier jobs, we must continue to transform our approach to economic development by increasing our focus on talent attraction,” said IEDC president Elaine Bedel. “The Indiana Regional Cities Initiative plays an important role in encouraging communities to engage in long-term regional planning to drive population and investment growth. Through these quality of place projects, north central Indiana is investing in its current and future residents by enhancing its communities for generations to come.”

Blue Ways & East Bank Village Development

South Bend Blue Ways is a coordinated series of public spaces associated with mixed-use development along the St. Joseph River in South Bend’s East Bank Village, which will increase connectivity in north central Indiana. The project will create and enhance public spaces and amenities, upgrading portions of the Northside and East Bank Trails between Madison St. and the South Bend Farmers Market and create seating areas, river overlooks, public art and new trail and plaza surfaces, as well as a new community center at Howard Park with a signature water and ice feature.

The trails are part of the regional Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, which will soon connect Niles, Michigan, to Mishawaka and several key educational institutions, including the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College, Indiana University South Bend and Purdue University’s South Bend Extension. Also included in the project is the construction of several mixed-use commercial and residential properties in downtown South Bend’s East Bank Village. The project is expected to be completed in 2019.

Total project investment: $83.38 million
State funding: $5 million

“The Blue Ways project will help South Bend to turn and face one of our region’s greatest assets: our river,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “By looking towards the river, we have the chance to create an interconnected region of parks, schools, businesses and homes that is both essential for residents, and attractive to tourists. Projects like this help spur job growth in South Bend that helps make our region a better place for all.”

Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center

The Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center will be a 170,000-sq. ft. facility located at 200 E. Jackson Blvd. in Elkhart and will increase health, wellness and regional competitive aquatics offerings in the region. The facility will be home to a Beacon Health and Fitness center, medical wellness services, a state-of-the-art aquatics center, and a community center with multipurpose rooms, gymnasiums and an elevated track.

elkhert itness center
Rendering of the Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center. The timelapse demolition video at the top of the post is from Jones Petrie Rafinski, which is managing the site planning and design

The center, which will attract visitors to Elkhart for local and regional swimming and diving events, will link with community trails and include outdoor gathering areas. Construction on the Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center, which will be operated by Beacon Health Systems, has begun, with demolition and groundwork now complete and foundation construction scheduled to begin in September. The facility is expected to open in January 2019.

Total project investment: $67.07 million
State funding: $9 million

“This project will be a driver for over $250 million in local investment for the surrounding downtown Elkhart area and will attract much needed housing and commercial development, offering all the amenities that an Elkhart resident could want within walking distance, for years to come,” said Shelley Moore, president and founder of Insight Strategic Concepts Inc. “The facility itself is expected to bring 35,800 event attendees per year and offer an economic impact estimated to be $4,720,000 per year with 16,350 hotel stay nights per year. This project, along with those to follow, will be a game-changer for Elkhart.”

Technology Training and Demonstration Center

The Technology Training and Demonstration Center, which will be located at 635 S. Lafayette Blvd. in downtown South Bend, will offer residents of north central Indiana additional education space, including classrooms and advanced manufacturing space, in a manner that encourages industry collaboration and educational outcomes. Local partners that will rent dedicated office space include enFocus, Purdue University, South Bend Code School and Springboard 3D.

The facility, which will enable a unique ability to enhance training while fostering industry connections, will be equipped with computers in three classrooms for coding and design, 3D printers and other equipment and is expected to be installed this fall.

Total project investment: $2.64 million
State funding: $507,000

“We believe that the technology and demonstration center will be an economic asset for Northern Indiana, convening students and industry leaders in a state of the art facility,” said Andrew Wiand, executive director of enFocus.

These project were recommended for funding by the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA) and are part of the region’s Smart Connected Communities plan, which outlines 39 regional development projects in three counties totaling $703 million in quality of place investments.

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