Birth of a New Events Center

Published Wednesday, December 13, 2017

One local developer’s plan to save a historic South Bend building is nearly complete.

Major renovations have taken place at the former Newman Recreation Center, located at Eddy Street and Northside Boulevard across from the Farmer’s Market, over the last year. It’s been reborn as The Armory, an event space that also includes a commercial kitchen and a soon-to-be wine tasting room.

Developer Brad Emberton has spearheaded the project along with Kurt Janowsky, whose Navarre Hospitality Group uses most of the building.

“We took the building back to a shell,” Emberton said. “Just reused the exterior walls of the building. Then everything was new inside of it.”
Video: New event space opens in South Bend.

Over the years the building, which dates back to the late 1920s, has been a National Guard Armory, police firing range and public recreation center. Parks programming stopped there in 2011.

The city sought to sell the building for $114,000 in July 2016 but received no offers. Instead it came to a development agreement where it would sell the building to Armory LLC for $1 and contribute $586,000 toward renovations. Emberton had to invest a minimum of $1.3 million into the project as part of the agreement, which was approved Sept. 29 of last year.

“We have a desire to maintain that historical fabric,” said Dan Buckenmeyer, the city’s director of business development. “That is pretty generally why we make commitments to existing structures and so on.”

Emberton set out to rehabilitate the building by stripping it down. That meant removing divisions throughout the main 16,200-square foot area that now serves as a ballroom, bar and commercial kitchen. Dividing walls separated board rooms and other activity areas previously.

One of the few structural changes, Emberton said, was connecting the bar area to the event space by opening up sections of the wall between those adjoining spaces.

Read full story by Jake Brown in the South Bend Tribune