SOUTH BEND —The city is selling some prime downtown retail space at well below market prices, but is happy to turn its ownership and management over to the private sector, under a deal approved Thursday.
The Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved selling storefronts under two city-owned parking garages, in the 100 block of south Michigan Street and the 100 block of east Wayne Street, for $625,000 to Cressy & Everett Commercial Corp. In a process stipulated by state law, the city had tried over the past year to sell the properties for a combined $1.1 million, their appraised value, but received no bids.
James Mueller, the city’s executive director of community investment, said the city had received another offer on the properties, but it was for less money and required other contingencies that the city didn’t like.
The city has owned the spaces because it built and owns the garages above them and will continue to do so.
“Management of retail isn’t a strong suit of city government,” Mueller said. “We have a buyer who we think is going to be able to manage and market those spaces more efficiently and effectively, and importantly, they will honor all those leases.”
The Michigan Street block contains seven storefronts: Linden Grill (which occupies two spaces), Edible Arrangements, Le Peep, Christian Science Reading Room and Bruno’s. The northernmost space is vacant and was last occupied by Michiana Brewer’s Supply before it closed in December.