29 Apr, 2019

Apartments near South Bend ballpark set to open.

This 92-year-old will be one of the first tenants.

SOUTH BEND — Genevieve Szynski is looking forward to the activity and excitement that comes with living at the Ivy at Berlin Place.

With a balcony overlooking left centerfield, Szynski will be able to enjoy the minor league baseball games, concerts and other special events at Four Winds Field no matter whether it’s hot or cold, rainy or sunny. If it gets uncomfortable at all, she’ll be able to retreat into her apartment to watch the festivities through a patio door.

At 92, that could be important.

On May 1, Szynski will be among the first group of tenants moving into the $23 million mixed-use development that will include 121 apartments as well as about 10,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space around Coveleski Stadium on the south end of downtown.

While perhaps not the targeted age demographic, Szynski represents a growing number of people — millennials and empty-nesters alike — moving into South Bend’s downtown core.

After Szynski’s apartment building opens, the other three structures will be ready for tenants in fairly rapid succession through the middle of June, said South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart. The studios at the complex already are spoken for, but there are still a number of one- and two-bedroom units available ranging in price from about $1,200 to $1,855 per month.

“We’re expecting the apartments to appeal to everyone from millennials to empty-nesters,” said Hart, adding that a 90% apartment occupancy rate in the downtown area means there is plenty of market demand.

Not including condominiums and town homes under construction in the downtown area, at least 300 additional downtown apartment units are slated to open over the next couple of years, excluding those at the ballpark. Depending on the number of bedrooms and the location of the building, prices will likely range from under $1,000 to well above $2,000 per month.

Mark Neal, who oversaw the redevelopment at the Hibberd Building at 321 S. Main St., said he believes there is a place in the market for all of the apartment units because each is distinctly different when it comes to amenities, location, views and nearby activities.

The 100 units proposed for the upper half of Liberty Tower, for example, will offer the highest level of luxury living with garage parking, great views and access to room service and other benefits that come with living in a building shared with the 187-room Aloft Hotel, he said.

Because of the large number of new apartments, the owners of Liberty Tower are studying the market — with the involvement of local real estate experts — to ensure they offer the right mix of luxury units for the market. Once that decision is made, however, the apartments should be able to be built in about a year since each of the upper floors already have been prepared for the work, said Stelios Hatzakis, managing director of the company.

“We’re going to offer comprehensive urban living with spectacular views,” he said, adding that they also hope to add a bank, a restaurant and other amenities to the building.

Back at The Ivy at Berlin Place, residents will have dedicated parking. While not all units will have views of the field, every resident will have access to a rooftop terrace on Building 4, according to Hart.

Management is also seeking a restaurant and convenience store to occupy retail space on the first floor of the buildings to cater to not only tenants, but also a growing number of office and tech workers at the Studebaker complex and other revamped offices nearby.

Szynski was so excited about the prospects of moving by the ballpark that she quickly sold her longtime home in preparation for the downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment and moved in with one of her children until her apartment was ready.

“I’m a baseball and football fan, and I like to be around younger people,” she said. “I’m always looking forward.”

Hart said the opening of The Ivy at Berlin Place will bring additional energy to the ballpark, which has enjoyed tremendous attendance growth since owner Andrew Berlin took over the franchise. It also will enhance the rapidly developing area from the core of downtown to the Studebaker complex since its residents will be there throughout the year, instead of just during the baseball season.

Szynski, who moved here with her family from Pittsburgh when she was just 2 years old and spent most of her life on the west side of South Bend, remembers when downtown was bustling with life many decades ago, believes the tide has shifted again for the city’s center.

“I think it’s coming back,” she said of downtown, “and I want to be part of it.”

Original story here.