When you live and spend much of your time in any one area, it can be easy to not really notice the gradual changes are taking place. Last week, I had a market tour with a client from Chicago that was completely unfamiliar with the South Bend/Mishawaka area. His Chicago company, of which he was new to, has a Mishawaka office and he was in town looking at a possible relocation for that office.
I picked him up in Mishawaka for a tour of the area. We drove down Main St and through the Edison Lakes Corporate Park. I pointed out the new developments of The Plaza on Day Rd, the new medical buildings, and the new Centier Bank construction and he was genuinely impressed with the look and feel of the area. I was not surprised by this as this area was developed specifically to make that impression.
We drove down Edison Rd toward South Bend, noting the heavy traffic flow on a busy afternoon as we pulled into a couple retail centers. I detoured the trip through Eddy St Commons discussing the single family homes, the apartments and the condominiums and office and retail that had all perked up in the past couple of years. This is obviously a showcase area to bring visitors and one that is impressive to everyone that remembers what that area looked like just a few years ago.
We made the final leg of our trip downtown by way of Angela Dr and Michigan Ave. It was a beautiful day outside so as we made a quick loop through downtown, there were people walking around, chairs in the plaza, and business people eating lunch on patios. Street parking was tight but all the activity added to vibrant feel of downtown.
As we concluded our trip and made our way back to Mishawaka, he commented on how impressed he was the area in general and how there were many good options for him to locate his office. As I thought of our overall trip through his eyes, I too realized how good it really was. We could drive from the suburbs to downtown and not pass through any dead or dying areas. There were numerous signs of development and the curb appeal was great the entire drive. Our area has, just as any mid-size to large city, its areas of blight and legacy industry, but much of that has been greatly improved over a relatively short time. I guess my take away from the trip was that for the local population it is easy to not notice the big picture of how the two-city area is improving and to get stuck thinking of only the challenges the cities face. We still have improvements to make in certain areas, but with recent new company announcements and plans to renovate and redesign our streets, I look forward to what a market tour will feel like in another 5 years.