Liz and Mike LaFortune break out in big grins when they remember how it felt to give away their snow blower and snow shovels before moving into a three-bedroom corner apartment at The Foundry Lofts & Apartments at Eddy Street Commons at Notre Dame.
The couple had lived in a 3,000 square foot house in Granger while raising their son, Matt, who recently graduated from Notre Dame.
“We wanted to buy a condo, but after we visited here and loved the atmosphere, that was it,” Mike said. They both feel that they live on the “coolest block in South Bend.”
Mike, a sales manager, works from home and travels extensively. Liz is a faculty member at Notre Dame in the First Year of Studies program. She said the security at Eddy Commons is top notch and she likes to joke that the lighting is so good in the parking garage that you can read a book. With Mike traveling so much, she said the feeling of security is important to her.
Eddy Street Commons represents urban living at its best, according to the LaFortunes and others who have moved there. The Buckingham Companies and Kite Realty development has it all: retail, restaurants, offices, apartments, a hotel, townhomes and condominiums. It is conveniently located at Eddy Street and Angela Boulevard, just south of the university. But it also is a quick drive to either downtown South Bend or University Park Mall.
Its urban design paired with residential living opportunities conveys a big city feel that is unique to the South Bend/Mishawaka area.
VILLAGE WITHIN A CITY
In fact, it is being used as a model for possible development in South Bend. Notre Dame visiting Architecture Professor Lucien Steil said in the South Bend Tribune that elements from Eddy Street Commons would benefit South Bend. Mixed-use development and a large parking garage surrounded by retail and housing would be appropriate for the downtown, he added.
The LaFortunes said they love the light in their apartment, which has large east and south exposures. The urban feel−with the brick, high ceilings and ductwork−is a welcome change after living in the suburbs.
But more than the architectural details, the couple has just fallen in love with the community feeling there. Liz said, “we love to eat at the local restaurants and browse in the shops−the owners and employees get to know you and that is so much fun”. The outdoor seating areas at the restaurants make it something special for this area. “Now that our son is grown we want a sense of community,” she said.
Chris Jackowiak, Senior Property Manager for the Foundry Lofts & Apartments, said the concept offered is a “village within a city.” She said the property offers all the conveniences of nearby great restaurants and shopping while being located in Notre Dame’s “back yard.” Most of the residents of The Foundry have come here after experiencing the big city and want something upscale yet small and friendly.
A FRESH, NEW ENVIRONMENT
Jackowiak said there is the perception that residents of the Foundry are mainly Notre Dame students. Actually, 65 percent are graduate students, while the rest are a mix of faculty, retirees, business professionals, or other members of the community who have chosen to live in this fresh, new environment. Children and pets are permitted.
Residents are an average age of 32, Jackowiak said, and must be 21 years of age or older.
The Foundry, open now for three years, offers 266 apartments on both sides of Eddy Street. There are one, two and three bedroom luxury apartments available with rents ranging from $1,100 to $2,250 a month, which includes water, sewage and trash. Residents pay an additional fee for parking.
Amenities include a rooftop deck with panoramic views of the Golden Dome and South Bend, a large community room with a modern kitchen, a workout facility, a game room with Wii and Xbox, a theater room with a drop down screen (perfect for watching football games), a tanning salon, and a business center with computers, a copier and a printer.
A billiards room, small conference rooms and a mini art gallery with changing artwork by local artists are also part of The Foundry experience.
The apartments feature large windows with great views, 10-foot ceilings, private baths for every bedroom, a full size washer and dryer, electronic fob key access, an amenities center, and intrusion alarms on each apartment, as well as garage parking.
The design of the apartments incorporates sleek, modern architectural details such as exposed brick walls and hardwood-style floors. Some apartments have private balconies. There are 17 different floor plans available.
Jen Zupkosky, 25, a PhD student in biology, spends most of her time in the lab. But when she isn’t working on contagious disease research, she and her six-month-old French Bulldog, Chandler, can be seen taking walks at Eddy Street Commons. She would like to get an MBA while at Notre Dame and enter the biotech field.
A native of Boston, Zupkosky is used to a much bigger city than South Bend, but she feels Eddy Street gives her a little taste of home. She said when she and her dad came to visit last year, they decided on The Foundry mainly because of its location. “Safety was a big issue for him, so when he saw the proximity to the school and the safe feeling, I wasn’t going to live anywhere else.”
She made the decision to get a puppy due to the solitary nature of her studies and has not regretted the decision. “It is nice to come home to something I have to take care of,” she said, adding that being allowed to have pets is a big plus. She has gotten to know some of the other residents based on the fact that they are pet owners, so that is a bond. “The people I speak with are those with dogs because we see each other on the street walking them so we have a mutual connection.”
Zupkosky mainly walks Chandler on Eddy Street and most of the employees of the shops know her well. She ventures across the street to campus when the weather allows for a nice long walk. Her favorite spot is Nicholas J Salon and Spa because the employees are very friendly and nice.
Jackowiak notes the popularity of the apartments for pet owners came as a bit of a surprise, but it has been a pleasant surprise. She said they have both dog and cat owners and find them to be very good tenants.
Zupkosky enjoys the retail mix at Eddy Street Commons, but wishes there were more clothing/shoe stores located there.
OUTDOOR ENTERTAINING − WITH A VIEW!
The rooftop deck is an amenity that brings the outdoors to the city, according to Jackowiak, who said it has served as the scene of weddings and corporate parties. They advertise it as “the ultimate in outdoor entertaining.” The rooftop deck is decorated in contemporary, comfortable furniture complete with casual seating areas, tables and chairs and a bar with stools and two flat-screen televisions. A modern kitchen is attached and a brick gazebo provides shade. The rooftop deck accommodates groups of up to 120 people, and has been a popular spot for rehearsal dinners.
While parking is a challenge in most urban settings, it is fundamental to the success of Eddy Street Commons. The parking garage offers one hour free parking for visitors. After that, parking is a mere $2 an hour−a rate not found in many other cities.
Everyone seems to agree that football weekends are crazy, but full of energy and good times. The LaFortunes said they hear the bands perform on Friday nights and watch the fly-overs before the game from a very different vantage point−their apartment!
Game day parking during football weekends is also available at Eddy Street Commons. Game day parking of $40 in the garage provides a convenient and safe option. An Eddy Street parking package for all home games is also an option. The garage location directly across from the stadium has helped make this a very popular parking option, Jackowiak said.
Three-bedroom, three-bath executive suites also are available for $250 per night at the Foundry. Prices are higher during home football weekends.
MORE TO COME
Eddy Street Commons opened its doors as a niche upscale development back in 2009. At this point, Phase I is nearly complete with only two small spaces left to be leased. Phase II is being developed.
Several living arrangements are offered including Legends Row Condominiums, Champion Way City Homes, Victory View Flats and Triumph Court Townhomes.
Mike and Liz LaFortune are considering a condo purchase at Eddy Commons, but for now they are happy with their transition to apartment life.
“The simpler life has its advantages,” Mike said.
NICHOLAS J AVEDA SALON & SPA
Sonia Stancombe, owner of Nicholas J Aveda Salon & Spa, calls Eddy Street Commons at Notre Dame an “urban oasis.”
“There’s just fabulous energy all the time,” she said. The urban feel of the place drew her in and she hasn’t looked back since locating there two years ago. Despite the recession, she has seen double-digit growth every year since opening in 2005.
Her salon, located at 1251 N. Eddy St., provides hair services, waxing, nail treatments, facials and specializes in hair and makeup for bridal parties. She and her husband, Brad, own the business, which is named after their son – Nicholas J.
Being located adjacent to the University of Notre Dame is a big plus for the businesses, said Stancombe, who added that the salon has seen an unexpected amount of business from Notre Dame faculty and staff, who find it very convenient to walk across campus to take advantage of the salon’s services. She has worked with specific university departments and has even provided a makeover contest for a deserving employee undergoing difficult circumstances.
Football weekends are just as fun for the businesses as they are for those who come out to Eddy Street Commons, Stancombe said. Nicholas J throws a tailgate for clients once a year offering her special pulled pork sandwiches. Kite Realty−the developer−sponsors Friday Kick Off Concerts during the fall and those are gaining popularity within the South Bend community.
She said she would describe the development as “friendly” all the time – not just on game weekends. “There is a sense of community here,” she explains.
Stancombe’s sentiments were mirrored by her employee, Ashley White, manager and hairstylist, who has worked at the salon for the past six years. “There is an energy that surrounds this place. And it’s not just a Notre Dame thing,” White added. “It feels safe, it feels comfortable and everyone is welcome.”
O’ROURKE’S PUBLIC HOUSE
Beth Morrison, a server at O’Rourke’s Public House, 1044 Angela Blvd., said she “has a ball” working at the restaurant. She said the outdoor eating areas are a big part of the draw and contribute to the urban atmosphere, which reminds her of other college towns she has visited.
Michelle Hardaway and her sister, Lisa Russell, recently opened Biggby Coffee at 1130 E. Angela Blvd., next to McAlister’s. The two have worked in the coffee/restaurant business and have had a dream of opening up their own business. The business is the “new kid on the block” and received lots of gift baskets, fudge, and other nice welcome gifts from other Eddy Commons businesses when opening in late April.
She said the coffee is roasted in Lansing, Michigan and is the freshest product around.
KILWIN'S CHOCOLATES & ICE CREAM
Rachel Payne, an employee of Kilwin’s, said she loves working at Eddy Street Commons. “We all support each other,” she said of the employees. “It seems like a big community.” Kilwin’s makes its own fudge and caramel apples and Payne said she enjoys selling the product that she makes.
While football weekends are “crazy busy,” Payne said there is so much excitement that it is contagious.
Parking is available on the street and in the parking garage on Eddy Street. Free parking is offered for the first hour in the garage.