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Progress continues for Studebaker building; owner challenges others to use it as model

NOW: Progress continues for Studebaker building; owner challenges others to use it as model

SOUTH BEND, Ind. –

The old Studebaker plant in South Bend is well on its way to a new purpose. Thursday the building’s owner took members of the community on a tour to see the progress that has already been made to bring the building back to life.

The building owner, Kevin Smith, used the tour as a way to encourage and challenge others in the community to work towards improving the South Bend community.

“I want us to be proud of where we are and what we can do,” said Smith.

He led a discussion before taking tour around the building that sat empty for decades after the car company went out of business.

The exterior has a whole new look now that Smith hopes will be a model for the rest of the community.

“My goal is to just inspire people, prove that it can be done, and help them do it,” he said.

The tour was hosted by BOMA Michiana, a nonprofit that works to network, educate and connect the community. The group hosts tours like this throughout the year in different buildings, but this building sparked new interest.

 “We had a lot of first time attendees,” said David Matthews with BOMA Michiana. “New faces that came to see what Kevin Smith is working on.”

And being more connected, Smith says, only makes the entire community stronger.

“I still am a part of the community so I have to be respectful, listen and understand what the community needs and I need to reflect that,” he said. “So it was very helpful for me to gain perspective from them.”

There is still plenty of work to be done.

“The first 500,000 square feet I’m guessing will be fully absorbed within another year,” said Smith.

But he says collaboration is crucial for not only the Studebaker building project, but any project like this.

“We can be different, but what if we came together and said why don’t we jump in to the digital economy? Why don’t we lead the country for what we do? That was my point to them,” he said.

Adding that the ultimate goal is to make South Bend a place that the next generation wants to live, work and raise their families.

“A lot of people are wanting to come home or come back to this environment, so we’ll be drawing people here because eventually there will be 3000 people occupied or integrated within the facility,” said Smith.

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