South Bend, IN is shrugging off lackluster years of falling home sales and drooping prices by making a name for itself in the awards and recognition categories.

With most homes selling at or below the $200,000 mark in 2010, the affordable housing town and county seat for Indiana's St. Joseph County is receiving accolades for boosting the quality of life and growing green.

• Gold Award for Municipal Excellence - The National League of Cities (NLC) late last year awarded the town gold for its participation in the formation of the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization, a partnership for redevelopment efforts that:

- Created a plan that led to the development of the $215-million Eddy Street Commons by Kite Realty Group, supported by $35 million in city infrastructure development.

- Supported infill housing efforts by the Northeast Neighborhood Council and the University of Notre Dame, just north of the city.

- Acquired and re-platted land to build 50 new low-to-moderate income and market-rate homes between Eddy Street Commons and State Highway 23.

South Bend's program has improved the quality of life for all citizens by developing a creative solution to a pressing local problem, said Donald J. Borut, NLC executive director.

Also included in the award recognition was the city's involvement in the:

- Creation of Innovation Park at Notre Dame (along with the University and Project Future) as part of South Bend's dual-site, state-certified technology park. In the year since its founding, Innovation Park has been home to more than 30 clients.

- Location and expansion of the Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend (with Notre Dame).

- Development of a master plan for reuse of the former Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center site, now likely to be the home to a new St. Joseph's High School.

That's just for starters.

  • In the fall last year, South Bend became the first community in northern Indiana to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The award was presented because of the town's remarkable commitment to providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging residents to bike for transportation and recreation.

In a previous green honor, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns named South Bend the 2009 Green Community of the Year for 50,000-plus population regions. South Bend has a population of about 104,000 residents.

There's more.

  • American City & County Magazine donned Public Works director Gary Gilot with a Public Works Leader of the Year designation in August 2010. The award came for Gilot's model work in reshaping the public works landscape in South Bend. The work included a high-tech solution for sewage overflows and the unique use of University of Notre Dame's computer servers to heat a greenhouse at Potawatomi Park.

Finally, in early 2010, the NBC's Today show ranked South Bend highest in the nation for its collection of real estate properties and for best real estate values (great homes for under $100,000), based on home size and value; area job growth and rising real estate prices.