By: NWIBQ.com

The former Chase Tower, a building that’s been on the ropes for years and completely empty since July, is finally going to receive the extensive overhaul it needs. The major redevelopment planned for Chase Tower starting this fall.

City officials announced Monday that the 25­story downtown landmark will undergo a $30 million renovation that will start this fall with repairs to the building’s parking garage. The project, named Aloft South Bend, will also include updates to the tower’s 183­room hotel and a conversion of the building’s office floors into 83 apartments.

“A major new investment in downtown South Bend is yet another vote of confidence in our city,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in a statement, alluding to several other downtown developments that are either underway or in the planning stages.

The building — which opened in 1971 and remains the tallest in the South Bend area — has been a question mark that has towered over downtown in recent years.

Under the previous owner, the property at Main and Washington streets fell into receivership in 2011 and lingered there for more than three years. A New York company named Washington Square Realty acquired the building through foreclosure in March of 2014 and created an entity called The Tower at Washington Square LLC for the purposes of owning it.

Washington Square announced initially that it would spend $5.8 million on a renovation, but the job ended up being bigger than that. In January of this year, the company told the tower’s remaining office tenants that maintenance needs had gone “from pressing to critical” and everyone had to move out of the building. All of the necessary fixes would be easier to make, company representatives said, with the building empty.

The hotel will include 3,750 square feet of meeting space and a new entrance that will face Main Street. The entrance will also have a restaurant and lobby bar.

Aloft has almost 100 hotels in 15 countries, but South Bend’s will be the first Aloft in Indiana. There are three Aloft hotels in the Chicago area. Kraemer Design Group, the firm that designed Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney, a $94.5 million redevelopment of a 19­story, century­ old building in downtown Detroit, will lead the South Bend project.

The hotel here is scheduled to open in early 2017.

The rest of the work on tap for the building — a rehabilitation of the parking garage and construction of 83 apartments on floors previously used for office space — will cost another $15 million.

Rob DeCleene, executive director of Visit South Bend Mishawaka, said in a statement that the new hotel will help “meet an increasing need for more hotel rooms downtown.”

The 291­room DoubleTree by Hilton is currently the only hotel in downtown South Bend. JSK Hospitality, based in Roseland, intends to build a 120­room Courtyard by Marriott at Jefferson Boulevard and St. Joseph Street, across from Century Center.

Aloft is also part of a growing list of apartment projects in the downtown core.

Two separate Indianapolis­ area companies are in the process of renovating the old Hoffman Hotel and LaSalle Hotel, located side by side along LaSalle Avenue between Main and St. Joseph streets. The two buildings will contain a total of 115 apartments. Another 60 to 70 apartments are expected to be developed in the JMS Building, which South Bend ­based Great Lakes Capital plans to buy at the northeast corner of Main and Washington streets.

Read this story on NWIBQ.