South Bend Offers Free, Pre-Approved House Plans with Notre Dame’s Contribution | News | Notre Dame News

Houses in South Bend

Last summer, interns from the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) at the University of Notre Dame, in conjunction with the University’s Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate (FIRE), helped assess the historic model of development residential in South Bend to illustrate how prototypes of new housing infills could fit into existing neighborhoods – part of a plan to offer free pre-approved building plans to potential buyers and developers.

Now, after more than a year of additional design work, including revisions and approvals, city leaders are announcing the final product – an online catalog of pre-approved building plans designed to encourage new infill housing. by closing the gap between the cost of a new home and its ultimate value in areas of the city where land values ​​are relatively low.

The catalog offers a range of context-appropriate building types – carriage shed, narrow house, standard house, stacked duplex and small apartment – ​​depending on prevailing zoning laws and lot sizes, as well as materials and methods. construction and market conditions.

“This is a continuation of the city’s efforts to support neighborhood infill and economic opportunity for residents by offering a set of pre-approved building types free of charge,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller. “Small to mid-scale housing development in South Bend neighborhoods plays a critical role in supporting locally serving retail and transit options while providing key solutions for housing affordability.”

Critically, the building types address the city’s need for more “missing mid-range housing” – a term coined to describe the range of multi-family or clustered housing types that meet the growing demand for walkable urban neighborhoods, but to more affordable prices. price than the typical single family home.

While evaluating the designs, the interns, including Notre Dame students Isabella Botello (architecture) and Angelique Mbabazi (engineering), reviewed a database of vacant lots and conducted research to inform location and design. new housing units with an emphasis on scale and context. . They then tested the prototypes on existing batches to show proof of concept.

The city is leading several new initiatives to improve housing affordability. By offering these pre-approved plans at no cost, he expects to save home buyers and developers thousands of dollars on the cost of a new single-family home or apartment building. The city also helps cover utility hookups for new infill housing, up to $20,000. And it administers a tax abatement program for the construction of new homes throughout the city.

Combined, these and other incentives, along with lower construction costs for certain types of missing homes, aim to reduce or eliminate the “valuation gap” – the difference between the cost of a new home and its end value – in areas of the city experiencing long-term decline and divestment, making it more attractive for individuals and developers, as well as lenders, to invest in these areas.

“The city continues to seek creative and innovative ways to support infill development in our urban neighborhoods,” said Elizabeth Maradik, Neighborhood Health and Housing Director for the city, who led the design process for the types of buildings pre-approved with the city. urban planner Tim Corcoran and urban design and architecture consultants Jennifer Griffin and Jennifer Settle, both graduates of the Notre Dame School of Architecture. “Pre-approved plans are a tool to encourage new construction on vacant land. »

Jason Arnold, Program Director of the Architecture and Real Estate Development Initiative at FIRE, said, “We are thrilled to see South Bend leading the way in housing affordability across the city through these types of unique initiatives. . We continue to look for ways to partner with them and their residents, leverage our expertise, and provide our students with opportunities to learn from industry leaders.

Notre Dame has a history of contributing to community and economic development in the South Bend-Elkhart area, from brick-and-mortar projects such as Eddy Street Commons, the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Facility and Idea Center, to projects business and workforce development such as as industrial laboratories. This extends to the School of Architecture, which has recently begun collaborating with local governments to restore and revitalize urban neighborhoods.

Christy J. Olson