From the Archives: Before there was Mayor Pete…
On Jan. 1, 2020, James Mueller took office as the new mayor of South Bend. Mueller served as chief of staff under former mayor Pete Buttigieg, who in wake of his bid for the presidency decided not to run for a third term.
Buttigieg attended Mueller’s swearing-in ceremony, but he wasn’t the only local celebrity present. Steve Luecke, who was South Bend’s longest-serving mayor at five terms, joined Buttigieg as Mueller took office. This week, From the Archives explores some Observer coverage of Mayor Luecke before and during his time in office.
Common Council denies Bruno’s Pizza rezoning permit
Nov. 18, 1992 | Julie Barrett | Researched by Andrew Cameron
On Nov. 18, 1992, then-Assistant News Editor Julie Barrett reported the South Bend Common Council’s decision to deny a rezoning permit to Bruno’s Pizza. At the time, Steve Luecke was councilman of the first district, ultimately serving nine years before running for mayor.
Originally, the restaurant was located in a residential zone. Rezoning the land for commercial use would allow Bruno Cataldi, the restaurant’s proprietor to make expansions and improve the property.
But the Common Council found Cataldi had committed several property code violations. Most concerned maintenance — Cataldi had left “junk and debris” in his backyard and let his dumpster overflow, for example. Luecke joined the Council in a 5-4 vote to reject Cataldi’s request.
Apart from Cataldi’s violations, Luecke said the council worried rezoning Bruno’s would attract other commercial businesses to the neighborhood.
Luecke said the decision could be reversed, but only if Cataldi “[would] be a good neighbor and keep his property looking nice and clean for a year.”
Luecke partners with Notre Dame to draw students into South Bend
Aug. 23, 2006 | Kaitlynn Riely | Researched by Adriana Perez
In 2006, about 160 freshmen participated in the first-ever “Explore South Bend Tour.” The tour encouraged first-year students to discover the entertainment and dining options in the local area.
Mayor Luecke’s office and the City of South Bend joined forces with student government’s community relations committee to sponsor the two-hour tour downtown. During the trip, Luecke gave a history of the city and encouraged students to get involved with the South Bend community. At the end, students sampled local pizza and fondue from the South Bend Chocolate Café.
Today, a similar program, called the “Day of Community,” takes place Monday of Welcome Weekend. New students are shuttled off campus to engage with a broad range of community organizations, including the Robinson Community Learning Center, St. Adalbert School and the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
Notre Dame collaborate on Eddy Street Commons, Innovation Park
Feb. 20, 2009 | Madeline Buckley | Researched by Meg Pryor
On Feb. 20, 2009, News Writer Madeline Buckley reported on several land development projects meant to strengthen ties between Notre Dame and South Bend: the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Act, Eddy Street Commons and Innovation Park.
Both parties sought to revive the city’s Northeast Neighborhood, which had suffered years of economic decline. According to the article, the University wanted to turn some older lots into housing for faculty and staff, while the city wanted subsidized housing for low-income families. For the project, Notre Dame and Luecke partnered with the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization (NNRO), a local group which worked to protect the interests of the neighborhood’s residents. Some worried the development would cause gentrification — concerns the NNRO sought to quell.
“We worked with the University to make the ground rules and look over their shoulder all the time to make sure they were· doing what they were supposed to, and they did,” NNRO member Marguerite Taylor said. “There has not been one person that has moved from the area that’s not better off than before the move.”
In Eddy Street Commons, Notre Dame and South Bend sought to introduce businesses to the Northeast Neighborhood. Originally, the project’s team considered the name “University Village” for today’s Eddy Street. They vetoed the proposal, citing a desire to maintain South Bend’s identity as separate from Notre Dame. Either way, you know who to thank for being able to satisfy your Chipotle craving.
The 13-acre Innovation Park was created to help Notre Dame research partner with local businesses as well as attract outside investment, the article said.
“The energy and the creativity that will focus there at Innovation Park is something that will enhance research on campus and make our community more attractive,” Luecke said. “We are seeing interest around the country in what happening in here in South Bend.”