New Townhomes Proposed for Old Rink Site

by Nick Molnar on February 19, 2010

A South Bend land developer has announced his intention to build moderately priced townhomes downtown South Bend. David Matthews, developer of Ivy Quad, and formerly associated with Keenan Court, spoke before South Bend’s redevelopment commission about his proposal for the the roughly one acre piece of land north of Colfax Avenue at the river. This lot is commonly known as the “Rink site” because it was formerly the site of Rink Riverside Printing.

David Matthews stated his intent to build ten or eleven townhomes, eight with river views and two or three set off the river. He said they would be 1,680 square feet with 2-car garages and prices would start around $170,000. He said he has verbal commitments for two of the units, though at higher prices due to upgrades the purchasers selected. The lower priced of the pair is “under $200,000.”

The contract for the land is not final, but is for $10,000 and stipulates that the developer won’t request a tax abatement for the project. It also gives the developer 36 months to complete construction. When asked about this timeline, David Matthews said he intended to have completed townhomes on the site by this Fall. He said he will first build three: a furnished model and the two he has pre-sold.

The  terms are very different from those the last interested developer received. Place Builders, who planned to build eleven townhomes on the site priced from $400,000, was to pay $150,000 for the land. They never began construction and their $15,000 deposit was returned at the redevelopment commission’s last meeting on February 5th. Here is WNDU’s story about that project’s approval in September of 2008.

I’ll post updates on the Rink Site’s progress as it occurs. If you have questions about South Bend condos, put them in the comments, or contact me directly if you prefer.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Irish Eyes February 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Yep, called it! LOL

$10,000 for the site, heck, I’d have paid that easily since that is a steal! Although I might have come up with a different site plan and density for a lower price point. 1,680 s.f. for $170K is fair BUT that is a lot of s.f. and should be pared down to get under $130K. But the risk is 10-11 units so not that big of a deal.

Funny, SBT quote “Matthews said he has learned, while developing the Ivy Quad condo project east of the Notre Dame campus, that there is a demand for that price point.”

But the article fails to mention he was also the point person for Keenan Court (and said something similar)…that land was a steal too but a giant bust. Ivy Quad, as I have said before, has great brick and stonework, but the oddities of the development and price point will make it difficult to the point that I personally believe the development will not be successful (that is sellout within 3 years and make a profit). As I have said, the low price points will sell in Ivy Quad, leaving the large ones vacant and the rest of construction untenable. Of course, I am very interested to see the sales numbers for Ivy Quad to see if my assessment is correct or not and to have a pulse on the overall market. Place Builders is a decent builder in the area and whether the raw land is $1K per unit or $12K per unit isn’t that much of a difference overall and I would bet Andy Place didn’t want to take the risk on this small infill development which he has experience in infills large and small. I hope the city didn’t make a mistake…since it is a site that should have something really cool on it.

Best wishes though.


Kathy Reddy White February 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Affordable condo’s is a must. But you seriously lack destination shopping and things to do. So how do you attract people when it’s fairly boring and there’s no grocery? I constantly have people from out of town come into my gallery and ask where the rest of the shops are. I tell them about Chocolate Cafe, The Vine etc. They all say “No, we know about that. We want this. Cool small shops. A college town. Why isn’t anything here?”

I don’t know how we can possibly have empty lots on the river in the center of downtown. Building there should be a no-brainer if you build with architectural integrity. I have no trouble filling my apartments or retail spaces. at 528 East Colfax Ave. In fact, I have waiting lists. If you can actually find a cool building that’s still standing, you’ll have interest. Let’s fill these empty lots. They are really detrimental – it’s has a bombed out look to an area that could be very cool – the East Bank Village.


Irish Eyes February 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Kathy Reddy White – You said, “a college town”. It is probably easier to understand when you realize that the largest ones ND, SMC, and HCC are modeled more after a boarding school model then what most people find in other colleges around the country. This is one reason why the drivers to make SB more of a college town/college town friendly haven’t materialized for decades. Combine that with a wealthy and controlling administration at ND, no free-style college town has been permitted to evolve. Add to that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” wink-wink alcohol policy at ND (not at SMC or HCC) and you have a bunch of students sitting in their rooms drinking instead of getting out and doing non-alcohol related activities. I consider ESC a mini-downtown that will compete with efforts to revitalize the old SB downtown leaving it primarily an “office park” that permits vagrants to occupy the space after hours. Perhaps these townhomes will provide an incremental improvement even if not the highest and best use of this riverfront parcel. Hopefully, 10-11 buyers will call this place home.


Irish Eyes February 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Oh, by the way…I like the East Bank Village name. Works for me.


npmolnar February 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

editor’s note:
The East Bank Village name has been around for a while and even has its own web site with a brochure and a master plan.


Irish Eyes February 20, 2010 at 11:30 pm

npmolnar – Learn something new everyday. They did a nice job on the concept plan…I like it! Do you think ESC competes with this? That is, retail and investment dollars that could have gone to EBV got ultimately diverted to ESC? There is only so much retail and mixed use that our area can absorb and support.


npmolnar February 21, 2010 at 12:37 am

I don’t think it’s a zero sum game, but everything competes.

What happens at the site of the old St. Joe hospital will impact the East Bank significantly. That’s halfway between downtown SB and Eddy Commons. It could start to pull the areas together a bit more, or become a barrier between them.


K February 21, 2010 at 3:27 am

I think the site of the old St. Joe Hospital could be utilized MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY than the site for a new St, Joseph High School. This is PRIME REAL ESTATE! This would be the perfect site for a downtown Martin’s, plus many other stores. I am against the high school model. If developed correctly, the Marian Hill apartments (vacant for several years) could turn into AWESOME condos with some foresight and innovation. (preferrably with balconies.) Not to mention the remainder of the property. which could have AFFORDABLE downtown condos ( 3-4 bed, 1.5-2 bath condos in it place on a crawl-space., I would consider living there myself! I grew up in NYC,a and have only owned condos or apartments until I moved here. It is more overwhelming than I though (*owning a traditional home) in terms of maintenance. (although I LOVE the southside!) The evil side of me hopes that St. Joe High doesn’t raise the funds to build a new high school at this site.


Irish Eyes February 21, 2010 at 11:11 am

npmolnar – Thanks for the comments. I do think however that it is closer to a zero sum game at this point in time. There is only so much retail that Michiana can support. Perhaps a few people at the margin will stay in the area after a football game for dinner if there are additional nice options, but my last experience was that there weren’t any wait times after the games at even some of my old favorites. We’ve just been through one of the biggest (over decades) expansions of credit in human history that has shifted down abruptly. Consumer credit is in a sustained pull back (per Meredith Whitney, $2T (that’s Trillion) in consumer credit pull back through 2011) and empty retail space is almost an epidemic, or at least historic, on a national scale. I like the mixed use concepts, but “live, work, play” is a difficult pitch in an environment of consumer credit contraction and continued flight from the city limits. It’s a start, and I hope one that catches on and reverses the continued move to Granger and the other areas. I am skeptical of ESC overall and its relation to the rest of the area, particularly downtown South Bend. The EBV plan is a positive step for South Bend.


npmolnar February 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

You’re probably right that Eddy Commons dimmed the prospects for pulling Notre Dame students and fans into the downtown area. But it doesn’t seem to be drawing much business from the surrounding neighborhoods – at least based on my casual observations of out of state license plates in front of the stores and conversations asking people who live nearby if they shop or eat there.

I suspect the public sector resources are divided – the city of South Bend probably can’t build two expensive parking garages in quick succession. But a concept like the East Bank Village may compete more directly with the Grape/Main corridor and University Park Mall / Heritage Square / Toscana Park area than with Eddy Commons – not for public investment but for nearby residents and as a shopping/dining destination.


Irish Eyes February 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm

npmolnar – If I understood the goals of ESC, it was to also attract locals including from other colleges – IUSB, SMC, HCC, etc. – at least that was part of the marketing information. The problem is only ND students can readily walk to ESC and for them it is still a hike. More likely, off campus students will patronize the stores, especially those that live there. From experience, most businesses can not survive on just ND students as customers…they MUST have year round customers which would include locals. I like the layout of ESC and how it relates to campus, I’m just not fond of the density and disney-esque “fakeness” of it all…too much concrete and odd scale as a stand alone. Time will tell.


Outside the Box February 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Nick – Do you have any sketches of what the exterior will look like? This should be a success at roughly $100 per sqft for a base price.


npmolnar February 25, 2010 at 10:38 am

Nothing yet.


ST February 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

$170k seems like the right price point to start at. Its hard to say what the market really is since we haven’t seen this type of housing in down town along the river. This is a good start that hopefully can grow to larger developments and increased values. Residents want services, but we are not an urban city. For the most part, everyone has cars and every drives to work, drives to shopping and drives to dine. If the residents (with income) come, the retailers will follow. For now, we need local operaters to continue to invest in down town and to do an exception job at what they do.
Eddy St, great project and the entire community will benefit if it succeeds. Investors need to make a return and ESC needs to prove it is possible in this area. It is very common for cities to have different areas or districts, i.e. college town, down town, burbs or Chinatown, we just have to be good at all parts.


Irish Eyes March 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

How are the February numbers looking? New home sales? ND area condos/townhomes/homes? Somehow, they will probably be a tad worse than I expected…unfortunately for the area.


npmolnar March 3, 2010 at 12:48 am

I just posted the February sales report.
It appears it is still slow going for builders and seller of Notre Dame condos and townhomes.
The overall numbers are a bit better than last month and last year though.


Steve Mihaljevic May 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Guys the key to downtown South Bends rebirth is “high quality” market rates apartmnts.. NOT condos.. Apartments.. I completed my $275,000 of 117 Franklin place last fall and I have had 6 units occupied by Notre Dame Graudate Students, one assitant professor and one Engineer who is working ont he Ignition Park development. and I have just had my first two openings in over a year due to Graduation of two of my MBA students which I have quickly rented out to pending ND Graduate students coming in this fall.

We are planning 4 projects of this style some are smaller like this one some are huge and will take some work with the city to get done, but this is the way to go..

ND IUSB and bethel students will live downtown but we need to privde for the ‘high quality” rentals not the relative garbage thats out there now..

Check out some of my before and after pictures of our project. We even put in a hot tub..



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