Envision an urban neighborhood featuring more than 80 new homes with riverfront vistas. Consider improved riverwalk amenities with a more pedestrian-friendly area. Imagine an expanded park space, where a cloverleaf now occupies valuable land near Northside Boulevard and Eddy Street.
Those are some of the big ideas in Phase 2 of the East Bank Village master plan.
The City of South Bend presented strategic plans for the second, southern phase of the East Bank Village during a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the Bendix Theater in Century Center. Consultants from Chicago-based JJR and representatives of Holladay Corp., volunteer facilitators for the planning process, shared a 45-minute presentation that was followed with a public comment and question-and-answer period.
"This is an exciting but realistic plan that we can achieve without extensive public investment," said Jeff Gibney, executive director of Community and Economic Development for the City of South Bend. "This plan complements the expanded green space and walkable, mixed-use development that characterized the first-phase master plan for the area north of Howard Park."
The master plan, which builds upon work developed in previous plans in 1912, 1980 and 2005, consists of two phases:
Phase 1 focuses on the East Bank north of Jefferson Boulevard to LaSalle Avenue and east to the alley between Hill Street and St. Louis Boulevard. Phase 2 follows the riverfront south from Jefferson to the Transpo garage site, near Northside Boulevard and Notre Dame Avenue.
Across the river from the central business district, the "East Bank Village" is considered part of the formal downtown area. It also is situated between the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University South Bend, and includes features such as Howard Park, the East Race Waterway and several major health-care institutions.
"This neighborhood is a key bridge between two buttresses of South Bend's high-tech future – Innovation Park at Notre Dame, now under construction near the north end of Eddy Street (along with Eddy Street Commons) and Ignition Park, a home for future nanotechnology commercialization efforts in the heart of the city," said Mayor Stephen J. Luecke. "The East Bank Village will provide exciting options for artists and scientists, faculty, young professionals and families who enjoy the vitality of city life."
Phase 2 of the plan proposes that neighborhood leaders draw a clear distinction for the neighborhood south of Jefferson Boulevard. "The Howard Park area would greatly benefit from having its own unique identity and should be commonly referred to as The Howard Park Neighborhood,'" according to an executive summary. "This branding of the neighborhood has exciting potential and should strengthen the neighborhood's identity independent from the surrounding areas."
During a two-day design charette, hundreds of community residents, business leaders, city officials and other stakeholders looked at three primary approaches and provided feedback that led to the final plan.
Phase 2 of the plan includes:
- Celebrating the river location with expanded public and neighborhood space. Continue Northside Boulevard as a scenic greenway for cars, bicycles and people, realigning the roadway after the cloverleaf is removed to provide a more open riverfront.
- Creating a quality urban neighborhood much like nearby Sunnymede with a variety of housing types and price points. Most new housing would be built on the Transpo site once the firm's new maintenance facility is completed near Ignition Park. Infill housing, like Weiss Homes' work along Notre Dame Avenue, also would continue.
- Replacing the cloverleaf portion of the Cooper Street Bridge (from Eddy St.) with an at-grade intersection (at South Street) to enable the land to be reclaimed for better public use.
- Providing for alternative types of housing, including townhomes, that appeal to young professionals.
- Architectural gateways at intersections marking key entrances to the neighborhood.
Returning homes along Jefferson Boulevard over time to residential use to restore the residential character, while relocating incompatible industrial uses in the neighborhood over time.
- Continued support for upgrading Howard Park, including the creation of a new community building and use of the historic stone house for river race planning.
The Phase 1 master plan received final approval from the South Bend Common Council and the city's Redevelopment Commission in summer 2008.