Indiana’s Oldest Zoo to Undergo Major Upgrade

Indiana’s Oldest Zoo to Undergo Major Upgrade

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has approved Regional Cities Initiative funding to support significant improvements at the Potawatomi Zoo, one of the region’s most popular quality of place assets. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and state officials joined Potawatomi Zoological Society executives to break ground on the project.

“As a state, Indiana is committed to attracting and retaining talent by helping create a better quality of place in communities throughout the state,” said IEDC President Elaine Bedel. “The Potawatomi Zoo has been a major attraction in north central Indiana for more than 100 years, and these planned renovations will enhance the guest experience for families and attract new visitors to the region.”

This project is the first phase of the Potawatomi Zoo’s $37 million master plan to improve visitor experience, address guest circulation and flow, increase revenue opportunities and bolster its position as a community asset and regional attraction. Founded in 1902, the Potawatomi Zoo, Indiana’s oldest zoo and one of the most visited cultural attractions in north central Indiana, occupies 23 acres of property north of Potawatomi Park at 500 S. Greenlawn Ave. in South Bend.

This phase of the development will transform the existing front entry into a 3,690-square-foot, state-of-the-art plaza with complementary, concierge-like guest experience to support increased attendance, which has grown by more than 5 percent annually since 2014. The construction, which is set to be complete by spring 2020, will upgrade and streamline the entry process for its guests and enhance the overall experience with new amenities like an ADA-accessible pathway, additional restrooms, vending areas and stroller and wheelchair rental space. Additionally, the Potawatomi Zoo will build a new gift shop at the front entry complex, increasing the zoo’s retail revenue by directing traffic by the store.

“Our city prides itself on its top-notch facilities,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “This improvement further enhances one of our most beautiful, most family-friendly spaces. By completing this project with the Regional Cities Initiative, we are further strengthening our ties with the wider area and attracting even more interest and investment to South Bend.”

“We are thrilled to receive Regional Cities Initiative funding to support our new front entry project,” said Marcy Dean, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo. “The front entry project provides a catalyst for growth as the first and most important phase of our Master Plan, providing a phenomenal entrance experience into the zoo for our guests and members while adding to the quality of life in our region and increasing our economic impact, educational reach and ability to continue growing as valuable community asset.”

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