Extreme Mansion Makeover: Birdsell Edition

Birdsell Mansion // WSBT 22

An old mansion in downtown South Bend is about to get new life. The Birdsell Mansion has been deteriorating at the corner of Colfax and William streets for years. That is about to change.

Steve Mihaljevic has been waiting 10 years to make the historic house into something.

"A modern touch with a respect to history is what we are looking at," says Mihaljevic, who started renovations on the property a couple weeks ago.

"We figure it is time to sit down and take a look at bringing this property online and see what we can do to repurpose it," he says.

Mihaljevic bought the Birdsell Mansion in 2007. Because of the recession he was unable to renovate it until now. Over the next 2 to 3 years, he will spend about a half million dollars on the 12,000 square foot building.

"You're looking at quite a bit of work to be done here but it is going to be done in phases," says Mihaljevic.

Mihaljevic says phase one, which includes the roof, windows and exterior work will begin this year. The second phase will come later. That includes includes interior work and plumbing, electric and heating and cooling. Mihaljevic is no stranger to renovating rough buildings. His other company, Mag Mile Properties, has renovated several South Bend buildings into apartments.

The Birdsell Mansion was built as a family home at the end of the 18th century. Since then, it has been a law office, apartments, and a daycare.

Now, wants to make it something else.

"We are looking to have a multipurpose events venue -- a social incubator so to speak," says Mihaljevic.

The business is called The Birdsell Lounge. Mihaljevic has put together a team of people with backgrounds in music, theatre, videography, restaurant management and event planning. They will help run the venue.

"It has been a ten-year road. Finding the right team is what really mattered to me. Putting money into a building is only one aspect. The other aspect is making sure once it is brought online the right people are in place to run it," says Mihaljevic.

The team is ready. In fact, several concerts and art events have already been held inside the Birdsell Lounge.

"I think we all have a vision of what we want it to be and we are on our way to achieving it," says Michael Trix, the entertainment manager for The Birdsell Lounge.

"I've been here at previous events and I love the aesthetics of the building," says Sean Hasty the Director of Video Production, "I think it has great ambiance and for what we are going for I think this is going to be something that is truly unique."

Mihaljevic says there is a long way to go before work on the building is done, but he believes, the best is yet to come for the Birdsell.

The first event for The Birdsell Lounge will be around Halloween.

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