Hundreds of New Condos Near Notre Dame

by Nick Molnar on December 8, 2009

Sometime in the next few days local news station WNDU is running a story about the continuing construction of condos in the South Bend Area when the number of buyers is down. Preparing for the increased interest, I scouted the progress of the condos near Notre Dame today to get a count of new units for readers of the South bend Area Real Estate Blog.
In South Bend, the terms condo, townhouse and villa are tossed about more loosely than in cities where condos are a large part of the market. Technically, a condo is a form of ownership where you purchase your unit  and a share of the common area, in a townhouse you own your unit and a specific area of land but pay into a condo association that covers landscaping and some items of exterior maintenance, and villa is a term used here to describe a freestanding home (usually a 1-story) that is sold with a mandatory maintenance plan that covers landscaping and sometimes exterior maintenance as in a townhouse or condo. In my experience, people looking to purchase property that want condos are less concerned with the distinctions of condo – townhouse – villa than they are with making sure the home will be looked after and the yardwork will be done if they lock the door and leave for 6 weeks.
Using that admitedly loose difinition of condo, and looking at the projects near campus (as opposed to downtown South Bend or on the river in Mishawaka), I went out today to try to get an accurate count of the number of Notre Dame condos built since 2005, a snapshot view. Physically visiting the projects is necessary because developers announce master plans that are revised, and construction is ongoing at several locations. In cases were buildings are partially finished I used my judgement – I didn’t count a foundation pour, but if a building looks complete from the exterior I did count it. There may also be some variation in my count and the proper number of built condos – I counted front doors or garage doors, and some buildings are confusing and others have units which were combined. Despite those cautions, I’ll stand by this as the best new condo count available today.
Dublin Village – complete – 58 units – townhome style buildings
Pendle Woods – a number of vacant lots – 38 freestanding villas
Wexford Place – complete – 8 units in two townhome style buildings
North Douglas – stalled – 32 units in two 16 unit buildings
Irish Crossings – spaces for several more buildings – 62 units in three and 4-plexes
Stonebridge – active construction – 32 units in 4-plexes
Stadium Village – buildings up, 13 units in two buildings
Ivy Quad – active construction – 6 units in the first building
Keenan Court – stalled – 6 units in two buildings
that leaves out the coming units under construction and many more announced especially at Eddy Commons, the retirement community built at Holy Corss, the condos downtown Mishawaka and South Bend. It also doesn’t consider the newly built rental apartments at Irish Row and Eddy Commons, the new construction siongle family homes along Notre Dame Avenue, or the new and recently built villas in neighborhoods throughout Granger.
So the question is … How big is the demand for Notre Dame condos?
In five years we’ve seen the doubling of supply of condos near campus with slowed but continuing development. Is this a response to a real demand or is it speeculative? Is the University increasing enrollment and faculty numbers so more people want quality housing near the school? Was it reflective of the heightened interest in real estate as an investment seen at the height of the bubble? Do purchases wax and wane with enthusiasm for a certain sports team? Were these projects with long lead times that missed the market?
I think it’s more complex than any simple answer, but each of those questions gets to the issue from a different angle. If you’re a buyer, investor or seller it’s important to think about the whole condo market, but it’s more important to understand the nuances of the developments – which meet your needs and which will be best when it’s time to resell. There are huge differences in the different condo communities – freestanding, 4-plexes or 16 to a buildings, attached garages, tandem garages, no garages, single level or 3-story, stones throw from campus or a 5 minute drive, $140,000 or $440,000, which have units reselling at a loss and which are still selling well,
Developers, residents, buyers and everyone share your thoughts in the comments.
Need help evaluating the condos to buy or making a plan to sell, click here and contact us.

Sometime in the next few days South Bend news station WNDU will run a story about the ongoing construction of condos in the South Bend Area when the number of condo buyers is down. Preparing for the increased interest that story should bring, I scouted the progress of the condos near Notre Dame today to get a count of new units for readers of the South Bend Area Real Estate Blog.

What’s a Notre Dame condo?

In South Bend, the terms condo, townhouse and villa are tossed about more loosely than in cities where condos have long been a large part of the market. Technically, a condo is a form of ownership where you purchase your unit  “walls-in” plus a share of the common area. In a townhouse you own your unit and a specific area of land but pay into a condo association that covers landscaping and some items of exterior maintenance. Villa is a term used in South Bend to describe a freestanding home that is sold with a mandatory maintenance plan that covers landscaping and some items of exterior maintenance like a townhouse or condo. In my experience, people looking to purchase South Bend property that want condos are less concerned with the distinctions of condo / townhouse / villa than they are with making sure the home will be looked after and the yardwork will be done if they lock the door and leave for six weeks. Considering that, I’m including condos, townhomes, and the villas from one project, Pendle Woods, that has been popular with Notre Dame professors, alumni and other affiliates

How do you count the condos if they are still building them?

Using that admitedly loose definition of condo, and looking at the projects near campus, I went out today to try to get an accurate count of the number of Notre Dame condos built since 2005. I was looking for a snapshot view of what is built today. Physically visiting the projects is necessary because developers announce master plans that are later revised, and construction is ongoing at several locations. In cases were buildings are partially finished I used my judgement – I didn’t count a foundation pour, but if a building looked complete from the exterior I did count it. There may also be some variation in my count and the proper number of built condos. I counted front doors or garage doors and some buildings are confusing, others have two units which were combined into one . Despite those cautions, I’ll stand by this as the best new-condo-count available today. If you have any corrections, leave them in the comments and I’ll update the figures.

OK. How many new condos have been built?

Here is what I came up with, broken out by project

  • Dublin Village – 58 townhouse units, construction is complete
  • Pendle Woods – 38 freestanding villas, with a significant  number of vacant lots
  • Wexford Place – 8 townhouse units in two buildings, construction is complete
  • North Douglas – 32 units in two buildings, construction has stopped
  • Irish Crossings – 62 units in 3and 4-plex buildings, several vacant lots
  • Stonebridge – 32 units in 4-plex buildings, active construction
  • Stadium Village – 13 units in two buildings
  • Ivy Quad –  6 units in the first building, active construction
  • Keenan Court – 6 units in two buildings, construction has stopped

drumroll please…. that’s 255 newly built homes.

255, that’s it?

Yes. But that leaves out the coming units currently under construction and many more announced but unbuilt condos, especially at Eddy Commons. It also does not count the retirement community built at Holy Cross, the condos in Mishawaka on the river or downtown South Bend. It doesn’t consider the newly built rental apartments at Irish Row and Eddy Commons, the new construction single family homes along Notre Dame Avenue, or the new and recently built villas in neighborhoods throughout Granger – not Notre Dame condos, but which all pull demand from the new condos. Consider those projects and you can more than double the number of new homes competing for Notre Dame condo buyers from 255 to well over 500.

How big is the demand for Notre Dame condos?

In five years we’ve seen the doubling of supply of condos near campus and now see slowed but continuing development. Is this growth a response to a real demand or is it speculative? Is the University increasing enrollment and faculty numbers so more people want quality housing near the school? Was it reflective of the heightened interest in real estate as an investment seen at the peak of the real estate bubble? Do purchases wax and wane with enthusiasm for a certain sports team? Were these projects with long lead times that were planned years ago but have missed the market?

I think it’s more complex than any simple answer, but each of those questions gets to the issue from a different angle. If you’re a buyer, investor or seller it’s important to think about the whole condo market, but it’s more important to understand the nuances of the developments. Consider which projects meet your needs and which will be best when it’s time to resell. There are significant differences in the new condo communities:

  • freestanding, 4-plexes or 16 to a buildings,
  • single level or 3-story
  • stones throw from campus or a 5 minute drive
  • $140,000 or $440,000
  • 8 units or 80 in the community

These differences not only impact the livability of the condos, but how they will sell and resell. If demand is significantly less than forecast by developers, it won’t be spread evenly among the condos. Some projects will fail and others will flourish. Some will remain half-built or become apartments and others will sell out and hold their value.

Developers, owners, condo watchers and everyone, what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you need help evaluating the condos before you buy or when making a plan to sell, click here and contact me.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Irish Eyes December 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

EXCELLENT blog topic and story Nick. Excellent, well written.

I too have looked at all of these “condos”. After touring them all I have come to the conclusion that the Irish Crossings triplex (not the fourplex) floorplans are the best…best layout and best bang for the buck. Large bedrooms with generous bathrooms for each and two levels of entertaining that flow together with walkout lower level The only downside is it is not right in the heart of ESC that some may want…thers will like being more peaceful and less crowded as ESC will be pretty dense. Just my two cents here.

Reply

Tracy December 8, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I think there are some great quality condos out there with high end finishes and definitely some in the “right” location for many buyers. But what almost every developer is missing is price point. I think they’re letting their greed get in the way and pricing their condos way too high. Take a look at what is really moving in our market and it’s sure not homes\condos over 300k or really even over 250k. As soon as a smart developer comes along and prices a decent condo in the low 100s, he or she’s got a successful gold mine. Until then, the greedy ones will continue with limited success.

Reply

Nick Molnar December 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Affordable but nice and new condos didn’t work for the North Douglas condos developer. Prices there were $120,000s to about $150,000 and while you couldn’t pick high-end finishes they were tasteful. I do see your point about the crowd chasing the wealthy buyers though. The right price and right location seems to be a tough balance in this market.

Reply

Dave December 8, 2009 at 4:28 pm

It’s all about Irish football and not the economy. The units will sell like crazy IF the Irish can field a consistent BCS bowl caliber team. Until then, it’s going to be slow going.

Reply

Irish Eyes December 8, 2009 at 5:36 pm

North Douglas condos were nice….very good finishes, not top finishes, but far better than most with nice floorplans too. They ended up being too expensive for the South Bend natives and too far away for the ND crowd. If North Douglas was near campus, they’d sell very very well.

Reply

Outside the Box December 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I think North Douglas would have succeeded if it had 2 car garages within so many feet of each unit. No one wants to buy a new condo with no garage. Think Main Street Village Apartment layout on this land. That said, the owner might have needed this level of density because of land costs.

The other thing I have found with condo/townhouse buyers is that they typically want to be able to walk somewhere……retail, biking path, etc. The North Douglas location did not offer this amenity.

Reply

Irish Eyes December 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Outside the Box – I agree. The no garages at NDC at that price point was a big factor for the South Bend locals who live in town year round. They have since built a free standing bank of single stall garages like Main Street Village. But unlike Main Street Village, there are no attached garages. Build out the rest like MSV and perhaps the project would work and maybe make them rentals….. I really did like the product though esp. the larger units (the red was a bit bright though).

Reply

Greedy? January 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

There may be room for “profit” on some projects (certainly expected and reasonable), but I’d doubt enough to justify calling it greed. If there is no profit, there will be no drive to develop projects. The construction costs including land and desirable finish costs push the prices to the range pretty quickly. Often times, it is not the developer who should be called greedy, if anything in many instances, it may be the owners of land/buildings selling to the developers. I think, for instance, if downtown South Bend building owners were more reasonable in their value expectations, there would be more feasible and affordable redevelopment projects to occur. I imagine the same would be true for land near ND.

Reply

Penny January 18, 2010 at 1:13 am

I think Nick’s comment is the most just. It’s crazy to charge a South Bend condo with over 250k. It’s just not going to work! It’s not a big city like Chicago or the warm sun belt region we are talking about. ND itself won’t draw that much appeal!! Get real, Hoosiers!

Reply

Leave a Comment