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Studebaker Legacy Lives 50 Years After Closing

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Honoring and learning from Studebaker’s legacy, without being weighed down by nostalgia, has been South Bend’s challenge during the past five decades.

Kevin Smith, who owns Union Station Technology Center, said too many people stopped believing in the city in the years after the automaker closed.

“We moved forward in the darkness, so to speak,” he said.

Now Smith’s hoping to rekindle the type of innovative energy that drove Studebaker for decades.

“You have to have visionary people. Vision spurs innovation, innovation becomes entrepreneurial. Then you have businesses, and that is the crux of why a community exists,” he said. “That’s what formed South Bend.”

Smith owns the last large Studebaker production building still standing in the city.

The six-story Ivy Tower was built in 1923 along Lafayette Boulevard in an area Smith is calling The Renaissance District.

He plans to connect Ivy Tower with Union Station via a tunnel under the railroad tracks and fill the 800,000- square-foot building with a mix of data centers, technology offices and residential space.

Smith sees his project as building – literally and figuratively – on top of Studebaker’s innovation.

“That whole innovative culture that built South Bend needs to be rejuvenated, and we’re going to rejuvenate it,” he said. “If we want to be a vibrant city again, we have to go back to our roots.”

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Jan 3rd, 2014 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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