Saturday, May 05, 2007

If you build it... | by Jay

Two bits this week on campus (and off-campus) development.

"ND thinks big with future plans", SBT. Lots of details on various construction projects, both short-term and long.

"Kite Realty Submits Eddy Proposal"
, the Observer. An update on the development of the "Eddy Street Commons", a mixed-use area extending along Eddy, from Edison south. It will combine retail shops, a 150-room hotel, office space, a parking garage, and a mix of condominiums, townhouses and apartments. Selected highlights:

...The land for the proposed development now consists of a mostly wooded area, a few gravel lots and some boarded-up homes along Eddy Street.

But Kite Vice President David Compton sees something much different.

"As you walk down Eddy, you're going to have four-story buildings on both sides of you, with old-style shops with painted signs," he said...

...Hakanen also pointed out the University is planning to landscape the area south of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center into a "town commons" that will be available to students, shoppers, and residents...

...retail will stretch along the block of Eddy between Edison and Napoleon Boulevard. Assistant Project Manager Ashley Ottesen said "anchor" institutions like grocery stores and bookstores will take up large chunks of the 80,000 square feet of retail and smaller shops will fill in the rest.

"You need one larger tenant to anchor the center, and then you need smaller tenants," she said. "We're looking for a mix."

Compton said he envisions a coffee shop in the neighborhood and said that, while nothing has been finalized, the South Bend Chocolate Company has expressed interest in a location in Eddy Commons.

"You'd like to have that shop, whether it be a bookstore or a market, that would be your main reason to be there, but you also need a coffee shop or a small restaurant where you could grab a sandwich or some ice cream," he said...

...Hakanen said the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore has also expressed interest in a location in the area, but that for the most part, the University's role has been mainly limited to what Notre Dame would not like to see along Eddy Street.

"As part of our agreement with Kite, we identified some of what we called 'noxious' uses that we felt were inappropriate to the neighborhood and the mission of a Catholic university," Hakanen said, adding that businesses counterproductive to a retail district would also be excluded.

Hakanen said funeral homes and second hand stores were on the list, among other things. He also said that while there will be restaurants that serve alcohol, there will be no bars in the new development...
A little more background on the Eddy Street development from a SBT article last summer.

So, will this development be more like a Charlottesville, or a strip mall? Judging from Kite's portfolio -- Macaroni Grills and Bed, Bath, and Beyonds, as far as the eye can see -- I'm not exactly sanguine.

I think this development has the potential, if executed correctly, to redefine life at ND in a profound way. In fact, I think it could be the most significant construction spearheaded by ND in any of our lifetimes, in terms of both the utility and diversion it would offer to everyone associated with Notre Dame (students, faculty, staff) and all the surrounding residents of South Bend.

I look around the country at other colleges, even ones as small as ND, and I'm envious of their college communities. The very best ones incorporate a beautiful, pastoral campus with a social & commerical district. ND has always had the former, but never the latter. One of the biggest downsides about ND has always been the lack of walkable options for eating, drinking, socializing, shopping. This has the possibility of creating a vibrant, vital complement to campus that has been lacking ever since, well, since the inception of the university.