Tax abatement extension for 300 East Lasalle building tabled

NOW: Tax abatement extension for 300 East Lasalle building tabled

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A South Bend Common Council Committee tabled a bill Monday night that would extend a tax abatement for Matthews LLC, the developer behind the East Race Market grocery store and 300 East Lasalle Apartment Buildings.

The City of South Bend is suing that developer, David Matthews, for $7.5 million for failing to build the apartments and the attached grocery store within the deadline agreed to for tax abatements.

The main argument brought to light in Monday's meeting is that while Matthews has unpaid property taxes of up to over $600,000, not granting the extension would ultimately close the East Race Market that just opened six months ago, and put the 300 East Lasalle building at risk.

"We should hold developers accountable, they should pay their taxes, their water bills," says South Bend Common Councilmember Troy Warner.

Warner and other city leaders believe it's setting a precedent for future developers by not granting the one-year extension on the construction period tax abatement.

"The building, the project can't survive without this tax abatement that was agreed to back in 2017 before Covid happened, before we started construction," David Matthews says, developer and founder of Matthews LLC.

Matthews says issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are to blame for the 11-month delay on the 300 East Lasalle Apartments and the East Race Market grocery store on its first floor.

Councilmember Oliver Davis, who supports the extension, points to other major city projects like the Indiana Dinosaur Museum which received a larger extension.

"Go check to see if every one of their projects are up to date, you take their abatements and they're falling behind, especially in Covid and see what happens to them," Davis explains. "You will find that they are very similar issues."

The resolution, brought forth by Davis and Sherri Bolden-Simpson was ultimately tabled, citing a need for more documentation that proves the building is worth granting this extension for.

"Documentation that shows the amount of money that has been invested, the number of jobs that have been created, and the true benefits of the development," says Warner.

"I'm worried, this is a really big deal for this development and future development," Matthews admits.

The bill will be brought back to the table of the committee in two weeks, on Monday June 24.

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