SOUTH BEND — Community leaders say South Bend is growing and changing.
The city took another step forward when those leaders cut the ribbon on 46 brand new apartments downtown.
Those apartments are in the old JMS Building. They're called the Studebaker Lofts.
Bradley Company, which developed the apartments, says the units are a mix of modern and vintage.
But these homes aren't just a nice place to hang your hat. Community leaders say they're a sign of the times.
"When I was growing up here the joke was that you could shoot a cannon down Michigan Street and not hit anything,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
"There was a whole time when nobody was really downtown and it's great to be back again,” said resident, Barb Cassady.
Cassady and her husband have lived in South Bend for decades. They moved into the Studebaker Lofts in March.
"I work five minutes away from here, my husband can walk to work and it's just nice being in a place we can walk,” said Cassady.
"Anytime we see people choosing to live closer to where they work and play that's a good sign for downtown development,” said Buttigieg.
Right now, there are only seven units left to lease. Bradley Company's Senior Vice President Michael Zink says there's a waiting list for one bedroom apartments. He says that indicates a trend.
"Younger people are no longer living at home and they're no longer doubling or tripling up. They're getting their own apartments,” Zink said.
But it's not just young people. A lot of baby-boomers want to move downtown too.
"They're done with mowing the lawn and they're going to be full-time consumers of all the things people like me would spend more time with if we had more time and money, which is the restaurants the bars, the shows, and all the things that make downtown great,” said Zink.
Buttigieg says it's all part of a cycle. Investments like the Smart Streets project opened up new opportunities.
"When you really have a healthy, vibrant environment around buildings, their value increases and it begins to make sense to an investor to take a risk on it,” he said.
Buttigieg says each investment encourages more people to come downtown, which is great news for South Bend's future.
"The function of cities is to promote exchange, to create situations where people run into each other and different kinds of ideas and relationships can come from that,” Buttigieg said.
Zink says he's excited to be a part of the transformation of South Bend.
He's not done building yet. There are around 300 more apartment units slated for construction in the downtown area.
Mayor Buttigieg says a market study showed there's demand for as many as 2,000.