Urban3 was hired by the City of South Bend to perform a Cost of Service analysis. Our work examined how South Bend pays for its infrastructure at the parcel level. The net cost model reveals where parcels are either producing more revenue than they consume in infrastructure costs (net positive), or where they consume more in revenue than they produce (net negative). South Bend, like many midwestern cities, has been grappling with the effects of deindustrialization on the built environment. 

South Bend’s net cost model with net positive parcels in black, rising up, and net negative parcels in red, sinking down. 

While conventional wisdom points to macroeconomic trends as the source for South Bend’s economic issues. However, Urban3’s analysis found that like other US cities, South Bend had overbuilt low-density single-family housing, which rarely produces enough revenue to pay for its infrastructure. This fiscal imbalance became more profound as the city started to lose population. Urban3 also examined the fiscal value of stabilizing distressed, and increasingly vacant neighborhoods and the impact of dense infill projects.

South Bend’s vacant parcels mapped, with residential vacant in brown and other vacant in yellow. 

Outcomes

  • South Bend is implementing a sewer and stormwater extension policy that limits new development on the fringe of City Limits that does not pay for itself.
  • After Urban3’s analysis the City started a revolving loan fund to jumpstart the development of City-owned vacant parcels. 
  • South bend is looking into doing a sewer or water infrastructure replacement fund to help small scale developers in certain neighborhoods.