University of Notre Dame, City of Elkhart, Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce join forces to address affordable housing and economic development strategies

Author: Carrie Rulli

The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, in partnership with the City of Elkhart and the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, will conduct its sixth Dean’s Charrette on Aug. 13-16 in Elkhart, Indiana.

A charrette is an intensive planning session where architects, citizens and community stakeholders collaborate to develop a vision for a project. The Elkhart charrette will focus on strategies for affordable housing and future economic development for the South Main, Tolson and Benham West neighborhoods.

“Building on the community engagement of the Thrive Plan, we are ready to identify actionable next steps for the future of this important area of our city,” said Levon Johnson, president of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

“This is an opportunity for all of our community members to speak to the future of what their neighborhoods can be. The goal is to incorporate all feasible ideas into actionable steps,” he said.

Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson added, “By incorporating feedback from residents and stakeholders from these neighborhoods, we are going to be able to work toward a plan that is the most impactful for the people who live, work and play on the south side of Elkhart.”

Elkhart residents are invited to a community listening session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 8) at Roosevelt Elementary School, 201 W. Wolf Ave., where they can learn more and provide feedback to the charrette team. Public presentations will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on both Aug. 13 (Sunday) and Aug. 14 (Monday) at Hotel Elkhart, Aria Ballroom, 500 S. Main St. in Elkhart. The charrette team will present its final proposals to the public from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16 (Wednesday), also at the Hotel Elkhart, Aria Ballroom.

The charrette process builds on information gathered at the community listening sessions hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the city and the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. These meetings allow participants’ voices to be heard about challenges, opportunities, hopes and concerns they have for the South Main, Toslon and Benham West neighborhoods.

“Drawing from voices of the community, we will use the design process to formulate a vision and strategy to create a vibrant, thriving, walkable, public realm, as well as provide a catalyst for building critically needed housing in Elkhart,” said Marianne Cusato, director of the School of Architecture’s Housing and Community Regeneration Initiative. “Our goal for this process is to generate a built environment that activates opportunities for members of the community to become local stakeholders by creating paths to affordable home ownership and entrepreneurship.”

The Housing and Community Regeneration Initiative provides assistance to municipalities and nonprofit organizations to improve communities through economic development by reimagining the built environment.

The work of the initiative targets immediate local impact as well as national and global influence through three interrelated activities: actionable projects, research and education. Faculty, students and collaborating professional teams carry out these activities under the leadership of the school’s dean, Stefanos Polyzoides, and Cusato.

The Elkhart charrette is the sixth in a series of Dean’s Charrettes in the region, including projects in South Bend, Mishawaka, La Porte and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Contact: Carrie Rulli, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture communications program director, 231-499-9492 or