Commerce Center re-zoning proposal defeated in South Bend Common Council vote

The proposed Commerce Center apartments // Image provided

The South Bend Common Council has voted to defeat the re-zoning proposal for an apartment building with a Martin's grocery store downtown. The vote was 5-4.

A South Bend developer wants to transform the area near the Commerce Center into a 12-story apartment building with a Martin's grocery store built into it.

The height of the building was talked about at length during Monday night's Common Council meeting.

The developer, Matthews, LLC, gave the council and the city several options for the project.

One of them includes a 12-story apartment building with a parking garage next door.

Back in 2008, the East Bank Plan called for a $25 million parking garage. That never happened.

Matthews said his company would cover the cost of the parking garage if the project was approved.

"We want people moving downtown, we want people living, working and playing, and the way we need to do that is having really high quality and awesome housing that people want to live in when they make South Bend their home," said Dave Matthews with Matthews, LLC.

Opponents of the plan worry about the shadows that a big building would cast, or that it would change the feel of the East Bank neighborhood and go against what the original East Bank plans called for.

"In this development, and just like with any other development, it's kind of like a giant game of Tetris; you have to make the pieces fit in a way that makes sense to everybody involved," said Brian Pawlowski, acting director of Community Investment.

Those in favor welcomed the idea of a private developer stepping in to help grow the downtown economy.

The city recently spent $5,000 to hire a consultant from Washington D.C. to review this project.

Earlier this year, the Regional Development Authority awarded close to $5 million in state funding to help pay for this project.

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