Millrace development plans taking shape, but redevelopment commission proceeding carefully

The commission tabled the issue Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Posted on Jan. 14, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The process to develop the area along the Millrace canal is continuing, slowly but surely, with one of the developers providing architectural plans to the Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Matthews LLC, the company developing the northern section of the area, came before the commission Tuesday with drawings of their two- and three-story town homes and the planned layout of their 20 to 30 homes along the canal.

Matthews and the commission entered into an agreement in October for the sale and development of the land. The acceptance of the plans is one of several elements needed before the sale closes.

The commission actually tabled the issue, likely until its next meeting Feb. 11.

Commissioner Jeremy Stutsman said he wanted a materials list for the exterior of the homes. Several commissioners also wanted to know what the exact height of the homes would be, since the agreement placed a restriction on the height of the homes.

Dave Matthews, of South Bend-based Matthews LLC, said the height could not be known completely yet, as the grade of the new road proposed to run through the neighborhood was not yet known.

Matthews said he expects to know what the exact height will be by the next meeting.

The Matthews development will run from about Monroe Street down to Purl Street.

Matthews said he hopes to begin construction on their first home, which will serve as a model initially, late this summer or early in the fall.

He then hopes to have the model finished and open by spring of 2015.

“It’s a new product coming into the Goshen market and if potential buyers haven’t made their way into South Bend to see the quality that we build, it’s really tough for somebody to commit to buying a couple hundred-thousand-dollar house without seeing it,” he said.

Matthews said he’s already been approached by a handful of people stating their possible interest in the townhomes.

A co-housing development is planned for the rest of the land south of the Matthews development.

Richard Miller, who heads up the group pushing the co-housing plan, said the group and commission are putting the final touches on an agreement for the sale and development of that area.

“I think we’re pretty well at the tail end of that, as far as the negotiations,” he said.

“We’re waiting for some additional details, a survey, that kind of thing that they’re working on, trying to get a legal description for the properties.”

Miller said the development is still in the design stages, but the largest obstacle is getting the land prepared for development.

“It’s one thing as far as when the contract will be ready, but then the other one is when the land will actually be ready,” he said.

Miller noted the various work that must be accomplished in the adjacent alley before development can begin.

He listed removal of electric, cable and telephone poles and water and sewer installation as the most significant hurdles to overcome before the land is ready.

Miller said he’s excited about the project and would like to have been able to begin earlier, but he’s being patient.

“I’m just kind of relaxed about it,” he said. “It will happen as it happens because you never know what you’re going to run into.”

“Early on in this process I was hoping that we could start April of this year,” he continued. “I realize now there’s just a lot of stuff; I don’t want to get in their way, I don’t want to push them and then have other problems.”

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