Circle Center Mall and Lafayette Square Mall get a makeover

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INDIANAPOLIS — Like retail relics from another century, the once-bustling Circle Center and Lafayette Square Mall are both more than half-empty and struggling for relevance as shoppers learn it shopping from the comfort of the couch or on a laptop is easier than driving. at the store.

The 17 owners and investors of the Circle Center have hired five architectural firms to come up with plans by the end of the year on how to reinvent the downtown shopping, dining and entertainment center that has opened its doors. doors with great fanfare and drew crowds in 1995.

“I think maybe in some ways they’re out of ideas with Circle Center and it needs some fresh eyes,” said John Talbott, senior lecturer at IU Kelley Business School, after learning that one of the mall’s earliest investors and its longtime manager, Simon Properties, sold his stake in the site in late December, “and the new world we live in isn’t really malls but a revival of experience centers”.

Talbott said the reimagined urban commercial spaces will include all the amenities to create new neighborhoods in downtown communities.

“The purpose of all these places is to attract individuals to a certain area,” Talbott said. “We are going to be mixed-use. We will have offices. We will have health. We will have places where people can live. We won’t just have a food court where people can get supplies while they shop, but a place where they come because “I love this restaurant.” I want to come there.

“Who buys these things? What if we had people working here? What if we had people who lived in this neighborhood. Then you kind of have built-in clients.

Talbott said Simon Properties, as a traditional shopping center owner and operator, was not suited to adapt to the changing retail environment in downtown Indianapolis.

“They were looking for people who had more experience in the office, in hotel management, things like that.”

7.5 miles from the Circle Center front door is the Lafayette Square Mall which is near the commercial intersection of Lafayette Road and West 38and Street since 1968.

She, too, had a tough time, best known for her empty stores and gunshots.

Developer Fabio de la Cruz, CEO and founder of Sojos Capital LLC, has a $200 million plan to redevelop the mall and its adjacent properties as well as other commercial sites along the Lafayette Road corridor.

“I see the mall more as a neighborhood which is a mall where we would have a lot of housing, we would have a hotel, we would have corporate offices, we would have a lot of traffic in the neighborhood itself and we see the neighborhood like the mall.

De la Cruz plans to open an apartment complex and boutique hotel on the 113-acre site this year as well as remodel Lafayette Square to create a self-contained community.

“Base will be our neighborhood, our second base will be millennials who like to have exciting things, and third base will be people who are trying to do something interesting,” he said. “Our goal is still to open the mall, apartment complex and hotel late this year, early next year.”

On Monday evening, the City-County Council will present a proposal to spend $750,000 on community infrastructure improvements around Lafayette Square.

While Sojos Capital recently filed an inducement request with the city for tax increase funding to support build bonds for the redevelopment, de la Cruz said he could afford to build the project. by himself.

“We have no funding. It’s all cash,” he said, indicating that tax-raised funding would speed up the completion of the project. “That’s what we’ll get from them more than anything. To accomplish our vision faster to build greater momentum faster.

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