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University plans Eddy Street Commons

Katie Perry | Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Notre Dame is forging ahead with plans to develop a retail and residential district just south of campus and has confirmed talks with a preferred developer for the project, University officials said Tuesday.

Greg Hakanen, director of asset management and real estate development for Notre Dame, said the University has selected Indianapolis-based developer Kite Realty Group for “exclusive negotiations” in the Eddy Street Commons project.

“It’s not for certain [the University is working with Kite],” he said Tuesday. “That process has not been concluded yet.”

Hakanen said there is “no particular time frame” for when the University plans to reach an agreement with the developer.

“We will finish and make an announcement once we’ve worked our way through the issues,” he said.

Last Wednesday, Associate Vice President for News and Information Don Wycliff told the South Bend Tribune there were some “stumbling blocks,” but said the University hopes to strike a deal with Kite.

Wycliff told The Observer Tuesday he could not discuss specifically what needed to be resolved between the two parties before an agreement is reached.

Kite would head the development of Eddy Street Commons, a commercial district to be located near Eddy Street and Angela Boulevard on land owned by the University. The project would also include two new residential areas.

Hakanen said the number of shops is ultimately “up to the developer” to decide. The current plan calls for 85,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, he said.

“We talk about philosophy and there is some general guidance,” he said. “But the developer is the landlord and it’s up to them to tenant space.”

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves told The Observer in February 2005 that the retail area might include “a small boutique, some restaurants … [and] maybe a bookstore.”

“You’re not going to get a Gap, a Banana Republic, something like that,” he said in February.

Hakanen told the Tribune that he and organizers have visited other campus commercial centers – such as Maxwell Street at the University of Chicago – to see “how the retail was laid out.”

The cost of the project is unknown at this time, he said.

South Bend Mayor Steven Luecke said Tuesday the development project will bring “new energy, new investment and new attention” to the South Bend area.

Luecke said while South Bend’s Committee for Economic Development is most involved with the project, he has attended meetings with officials, neighbors and other partners.

“We are very excited about the Northeast Redevelopment Plan,” he said. “It’s been a great partnership.”

Luecke said the plan would tie in with other area revitalization efforts, such as the expansion of the South Bend Clinic and the redevelopment of St. Joseph Hospital. These projects and others – such as investment downtown and at the East Bank – “compliment and support each other,” he said.

The new area will also provide a “great space for people to come together,” he said.

“I think this spot will be a great point of connection for the University and the community,” Luecke said. “I am grateful for the partnership we have with the University.”

Wycliff said uniting the campus with the community is “part of the hope” of the development project.

“The hope [is] that not only will it give Notre Dame a commercial and community square type environment, but that it will be a place where town and gown meet,” he said.