- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - South Bend officials are again listening to offers for reusing the former College Football Hall of Fame building as Ivy Tech Community College leaders continue working on plans for turning it into a culinary education center.

The city’s Redevelopment Commission on Thursday approved extending until Dec. 24 a limited option to Ivy Tech for buying the downtown building. The commission took it off the market in April and gave college officials six months to pursue their plans.

“They no longer have that exclusive option on the building, but they can continue to look at ways to redevelop it,” said Scott Ford, the city’s executive director of community investment.

Under Ivy Tech’s plan, the museum would undergo a $6 million remodeling to include bakeries and kitchens, along with areas where students could test and practice methods of urban agriculture. Officials said moving to the Hall of Fame building would raise the profile of Ivy Tech’s culinary program and enable enrollment to double to about 450 students.

Ivy Tech officials are still working out financing and other details of the project, although regional Chancellor Thomas Coley told the South Bend Tribune he remained optimistic about it.

The building has been largely vacant since the museum closed at the end of 2012 as the Hall of Fame moved to Atlanta after 17 years in South Bend, following years of low attendance.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the city needs to be creative in finding a new use for the building that will boost the downtown area.

“The best thing we can do for the hall is surround it with such a dynamic market that it becomes a no-brainer for someone to move in and invest,” he told WSJV-TV.

The delays in the Ivy Tech plan, however, leave some officials uncertain about the future of the building, which the city spent about $18 million to have constructed.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it ends up being leveled and offered as prime real estate for someone who wants to do a hotel or someone who wants to do a business office,” City Councilman Dave Varner told WSBT-TV.

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