Starbucks Heritage Square

Improvements for a new Starbucks have started within the west endcap suite of the former Doctor’s Express Suite at Heritage Square.  The expectation is for the cafe to open within the next 90 days.  The building faces the highly trafficked Cleveland Rd and the Starbucks suite will feature a drive-thru window.  There is already a Starbucks within the Martin’s Side Door Deli at Heritage Square, and that will remain in place.


One Michiana Square

The One Michiana Square building, located at 100 E Wayne St in downtown South Bend, came under new ownership in 2016.  The building was built in 1985 and had historic vacancy rates of 20-30%.  Now with ownership partners from Newmark Grubb Cressy & Everett and new tenant partners including Ladue Curran and Kuehn, the building is now 95% occupied and a true class A office building.  Renovations to the common areas and tenant spaces have given the interior a much needed updated modern feel.  The finished lobby is gorgeous and the office space within LCK’s space features collaborative working space, glass office walls and an open break area.  If you are in the area, step into the lobby and check out the work that has been done by Newmark Grubb Cressy & Everett.

LaSalle Hotel nearing completion

The LaSalle Hotel renovation project is noticeably nearing its completion.  The exterior ground and 2nd floor window trim is being scraped and painted, facade is being restored and on the inside, the apartments on the upper floors are now weeks away from completion.  In just over two weeks, the building owners will be accepting a historical preservation award for the building and the project at an exclusive event at the building.

There is definite excitement for the project as inquiries and leasing activity on the apartments has been steady all year.  The retail space on the ground floor still has opportunities for restaurant and bar.  Contact me for details.

Downtown South Bend Booming

Anyone that has visited or driven through downtown South Bend this year, has seen changes and witnessed massive commercial developments.  The Smart Streets project, which is converting the one-way streets into two-way streets with round-a-bouts and new sidewalks and landscaping, is impossible not to notice.  The redevelopment of the Chase Tower and JMS building into condos and the LaSalle Hotel and Amerigo renovations into apartments and commercial retail are also obvious improvements.  Recently the parking lot which will become a new Courtyard by Marriot hotel was also tore up.  All these developments are meant to bring much needed residents into the downtown area but in the meantime have made downtown a virtual construction site.

Has all the construction hurt business?  Local owners say no.  Mark McDonnell, owner of the LaSalle Grille, recently commented that despite the road detours business has been great.  James, the owner of Bruno’s Pizza downtown, stated the same experience in his store.  Recently I stopped in for lunch at the Chicory Cafe at the corner of Jefferson and Michigan St.  I arrived at 11:45 and within 30 minutes the line to order food was steadily 12 people deep.  The staff at Chicory handled the rush beautifully, the line moved quickly and food was brought out with little wait.  Outside the cafe, the streets were a bustle of people enjoying music and food on their lunch break.

On the most recent First Friday Event downtown, people of all ages and backgrounds filled the sidewalks and local restaurants and pubs. Musicians played played in cafes and on the plaza, merchants displayed their wares in windows and on sidewalks, and everywhere people enjoyed the sunshine and atmosphere.  In the evening hours, Latin music on the plaza drew party goers to dance on the plaza…yes even me.  While enjoying a craft beer at Brew Werks, I chatted with a young guy from Dowagiac making his first visit to South Bend.  He had been told that there was nothing going on in South Bend, but his first visit proved just the opposite.  As someone that has worked downtown for the past 13 years, I have to admit that I have been completely amazed by the change in the town.  The increased volume of people working, visiting downtown is amazing.  It’s easy not to notice subtle changes, but the life and quality of new businesses downtown and East Bank is truly quite amazing and sure to continue to grow.

If you haven’t visited downtown recently, get out and make the short trip.  If you have, share your experiences.

Ground breaking on Main St Mishawaka

Construction has finally begun at the site along Main St in Mishawaka adjacent to Lake City Bank and Meijer.  Plans for a multi-unit retail center were announced in early 2015, long enough ago that many may have forgot about the project.

The original announcement was for a 4 tenant retail building that would be anchored by Potbelly and Qdoba restaurants.  Both restaurants are new to our market, though the first Qdoba opened a few months ago at the Shoppes on 6 in Elkhart.  The owners of the property were unable to be reached to confirm both tenants or any other potential retailers.

Heavenly Goat-Heritage Square

A peak in the window on the construction of the latest craft brewer in the South Bend/Mishawaka area.  The Heavenly Goat Brewing Company will be opening in the former Gino’s Pizza in Heritage Square.  This will be an excellent location and a highly anticipated opening.  Good luck to Greg and Joel, we can’t wait!

Facebook HeavenlyGoat

Why do so many restaurants fail?

It is a well known idea that restaurant businesses are notorious for starting up and failing within the first few years of business.  Eye-popping statistics are thrown out like, “90% of all restaurant start ups fail within the first three years.”  Researchers from Ohio State University, interested in the validity of this type of statistic, studied 2,500 restaurants in the Columbus area and found that only 25% of restaurants turned over ownership in the first year and 60% turned over after 3 years.  This rate is still high, though not nearly as high as some anecdotes or even lenders would suggest.  Of this 60%, many restaurants have not failed, they have simply been sold by their owners even though they are making money.

So what is the reason for the 60% rate of ownership change?  H.G. Parsa, the professor at Ohio State University that headed up the study, concluded that most restaurants failed because of owners’ willingness to put sufficient attention on the business itself.  Life often gets in the way, i.e. divorce, illness, children, etc.  Those that have worked in the restaurant business know the hours are brutal and sacrifices of personal and family life are necessary to make a restaurant or bar successful.  This can be very draining on an owner and many find that after a couple years they are no longer willing to give up family and personal time for the business.  They may either choose to sell the business or simply devote less time into it and watch the business start to degrade.

This time and attention to the business can be the contributing factor to many of the more obvious restaurant failure reasons:  Poor customer service, inconsistent quality, poor money management, insufficient marketing and lack of investment in quality people.  These are all manageable issues.  Quality restaurant employees are hard to find and while many staff are good people, they simply will not be as dedicated as the owner.  That is a reality that owners need to be aware of.  Owners need to be willing to sacrifice much of their time and energy for the business, create a well thought out business plan and execute the plan and adapt throughout the life of the business.  The restaurant business can be rewarding and profitable but need to have the right kind of owners.

Mishawaka Bar for sale

Elkhart Bar for sale

Hoffman Hotel Apartments

I got a chance to walk through parts of the Hoffman Hotel Apartments in downtown South Bend recently.  The artist apartment building is now open and actively leasing.  Currently the owners have 18 tenants that have already moved in since the building opened on March 18.  The studio apartments are attractive with great views of downtown and Notre Dame!  The project also features common fitness area and artist creative studio space.  Pictured below is the creative space on the top floor.

LaSalle Hotel apartments next door are set to open in just a few months and will feature beautiful 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and commercial retail space.  Two great projects for downtown South Bend.


South Bend’s Historic LaSalle Hotel

Check out some of the interior photos of South Bend’s Historic LaSalle Hotel main floor.

Floors 2-9 will feature first-class apartments with all the amenities.  Main floor space is available for lease to a restaurant, cafe, bar or retail space.  What a great building and opportunity!


1st floor plan v3

Lobby Atrium

Lobby Atrium

Original LaSalle Hotel Bar

Original LaSalle Hotel Bar

Original hotel mail slots

Original hotel mail slots

Hotel Kitchen

Hotel Kitchen

Hotel kitchen

Hotel kitchen

Lobby View from atrium

Lobby View from atrium

Mishawaka Condos

The City of Mishawaka recently approved the Barak’s Group plan to develop a 30 unit residential condominium project on the vacant land along the St Joseph River near Beutter Park.  Barak intends to begin construction in 2016 and sell the condos at prices $300,000 and up.

Renderings for the project look great and appear shows residents enjoying the benefits of riverfront living.  The first question that arises, is there a market for condo’s in the downtown Mishawaka area?  Urban style condos are a fairly new concept to the area as downtown services and entertainment is limited and competitive homes in the suburbs with yards and privacy are readily available at prices below $300k.  As the millennials grow into the residential market, their choices of areas to live are much different than those of generation X.  Millennials look for more urban homes, closer to work and with nearby amenities that they can walk or bike to.  The issue that remains is that most millennials are still not making the income of the older generation and thus do not yet have the economic power to spur high-end developments that cater to this group.

Other Mishawaka condos on the river have struggled in recent years, but the economy is in a much better place than 7 years ago and we have seen other similar projects in South Bend be successful.  A new 70+ unit apartment complex, the Barak River Rock, is currently under construction on the north side of the river and is already receiving residential and retail interest.  High density homes along the river is a great use of riverfront property and something this community does need.  If we currently do not have the population to fully support, perhaps we will attract those that will.  The services, amenities and the jobs needed will follow and a quick look at how the area looks now compared to 10 years ago will show anyone that things are greatly improving.