South Bend, Indiana

Created by the City of South Bend and the firm Torti Gallas and Partners, Arise sets the goal of using limited resources to create a visionary— yet immediately implementable—plan to revitalize 10 struggling neighborhoods on the west side of the shrinking post-industrial city.

Currently, two corridors that feel like “truck-oriented highways,” plagued by vacant properties, run through the neighborhoods. The new plan focuses on walkability, placemaking, façade improvement, better transit, parcel consolidation, and redevelopment to convert the corridors to a series of distinct neighborhood centers.

Arise South Bend study area
The study area of the plan. Source: City of South Bend.

Just six months into the project, implementation is well underway and the private sector is responding by building the first significant residential development in the area in 90-plus years, Torti Gallas reports.

The city is spending $3.9 million to transform the Lincolnway West corridor, including restriping, bike lanes, on-street parking, trees, property acquisition, a form-based code, and engineering work. Another $2 million is pending. The bus network is moving from a “flag system” to designated bus stops and shelters—four are slated for construction in 2015.

The Olive Cultural District, a neighborhood center on the Western Avenue corridor, is installing curbs and sidewalks, trees, pedestrian-oriented lighting, and street furniture in 2015. A façade improvement program, using matching grants, has also been introduced, with 15 projects slated for completion in the first year.

Arise South Bend plaza
A proposed plaza in South Bend. Source: City of South Bend.

The city is moving to acquire 138 vacant parcels for residential development and park and cemetery expansion. Torti Gallas created vision plans for residential and commercial development in key consolidated parcels. A “tactical urbanism” project on Western Avenue in October of 2014 by community members created pop-up retail, a pop-up park, and painted building facades.

Two hundred and twenty-four residential units, 62,000 square feet of retail, and 52,000 square feet of office space are planned for the neighborhood centers in the next five years. Along a rail spur, 200,000 square feet of industrial uses is planned. Immediately after the plan was initiated, a developer was given low-income tax-credit approval for 18 new single-family houses.

Top photo: Another plaza in South Bend. Source: City of South Bend.

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