The South Bend common council has voted 8-1 on Nov. 27 to declare a project site at the southwest corner of Main and Jefferson Sts. as an economic revitalization area, making way for the development of downtown’s first new office building in nearly 30 years.
The last time downtown South Bend saw a new office building was in 2000, when the Leighton Plaza was completed.
Following the council’s recent decision, project developer Lewis Hansell is now a step closer to being granted a property tax break. According to the South Bend Tribune, the developer has the support of the Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s administration, which is currently asking the council to grant Hansell a 100-percent abatement for six years.
Historically, the council has stopped giving tax breaks lasting over five years, but Hansell is building out of speculation. His office development currently has no tenants, except for his own startup that would employ only 15 people full-time.
Hansell’s River Park Leasing Corp. in partnership with Great Lakes Capital plans to occupy the top floor. The second through fifth levels will then house Class A office spaces, while the ground floor would feature “high-end” retail spaces and dining options.
Great Lakes Capital director of development Jeff Smoke explained that being classified as a Class A office space means high-quality finishes and more expensive rents. He also said that such market is almost 100 percent occupied downtown.
Final approval of the abatement will be considered by the council at its next meeting on Dec. 11.