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Mirroring the plight of many mid-western cities, South Bend has seen a decline in key industrial employers and an accompanying decline in population. This has resulted in several urban problems including general disinvestment, high retail and residential vacancy, increased crime, and excess infrastructure while, for a large portion of the area, the cultural demographics have shifted from predominately Polish to predominately Latino. Furthermore, a Federal Consent Order for school desegregation places additional pressures on the neighborhoods while state policy has enacted a school voucher program impacting the public school system. As is common to many cities, limited funds add to the challenge.
Working with the City of South Bend in a public process, Torti Gallas developed a market-based strategic revitalization plan for the two principal corridors on South Bend’s West Side - historic Lincoln Way and Western Avenue. First and foremost, the goal is to create a series of “neighborhoods of choice”. When residents or future residents of South Bend think about where they want to live, the West Side should be at the top of the list. It is the intention of this plan to have both Lincoln Way and Western Avenue reassert themselves as vital primary streets that give new life to the neighborhoods they run through. One of the principal goals has been to develop a plan that will also attract private investment dollars.
Key policies include the following:
The conversion from State Roads to City streets allowing bike lanes and on-street parking
Transformation of retail from a strip development pattern to a node pattern
Encouraging airport related uses at the west end of Lincoln Way
Creation of an Arts and Design District
Connecting the Historic Districts on the east side adjacent to downtown
Expansion of the City Cemetery
Consolidation of properties along the tracks
Address crime through additional programs
Creation of the Western Avenue Cultural District
Some of the implementation tools used include: Land Consolidation; Memorial Hospital Residential Development Tax Abatement District; Geographically Based Police, Firefighter, Teacher, Government Employee Tax Abatement District; Geographically Based Magnet Schools Reverse Commute Admissions Preference; Leverage Sewer Separation Funds; Pilot Project Coordination with Above Tools; TIF, Tax Abatement, Subsidies; Tactical Urbanism Facilitation
West Side study area: 2,500 Acres - 4-Square miles
Lincoln Way Corridor length: 3 miles
Western Avenue Corridor length: 3.5 miles