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Commons a welcome development

Staff Editorial | Friday, September 25, 2009

It used to be that the only way for students on campus to get some pizza at 2 a.m. on Saturday was to head to the basement of LaFortune or wait in long lines at Reckers. But all that changed this month, when Hot Box Pizza opened at Eddy Street Commons.

In fact, all the options for food, drink and shopping will grow over the coming weeks as various businesses open their doors at the Eddy Street Commons, just a skip and a jump from Notre Dame’s campus.

For students, this is a welcome development. Notre Dame’s campus has long been isolated from the surrounding neighborhood – there are only a handful of existing attractions within walking distance that students are interested in – leaving few alternatives to on-campus options for shopping and eating.

This isolation is a key factor in creating the Notre Dame bubble.

Students arrive at Notre Dame their freshmen year without a car and most get off campus irregularly at best. The campus bookstore or HuddleMart become some of the only convenient shopping options, and campus eateries like Reckers are the primary places for late night food. It’s nearly impossible to break outside the bubble without taking Transpo or a taxi.

But off-campus shopping and dining just got a lot easier, making getting out of the bubble a lot easier, too. Underclassmen with limited means of traveling off campus will appreciate the convenience of nearby retail options.

But the Eddy Street Commons shouldn’t become the only place students go to get out of the bubble, either.

The development project has been nurtured by the University administration and all tenants must meet University-specified criteria. Only a few of the announced businesses are locally owned. A quick stroll through the Commons and a drive through downtown South Bend provide very different views.

Let’s be clear: the four blocks that constitute Eddy Street Commons will offer something very different than the rest of the South Bend area.

Hot Box Pizza is going to be an excellent alternative to Sbarro, but don’t forget about Rocco’s for some of the best pizza in town.

The future Irish pub at the Commons will also undoubtedly be a great place to get a drink, but Fiddler’s Hearth in downtown South Bend is a one-of-a-kind place students should also try.

It’s good that students finally have off-campus alternatives that are accessible, but the options at Eddy Street Commons don’t represent all of the alternatives the South Bend area has to offer – students owe it to themselves to seek out some of the other businesses the area has to offer when considering going off campus.

But for now, a steak burrito from Chipotle will do the trick.