Mall getting go-karts and golf

March 14, 2008
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Lafayette
                              Square MallThe new owners of Lafayette Square Mall are plotting a $12-million redevelopment that would add a go-kart track and PC gaming area to the former Lazarus. New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. wants to make maximum use of the 113-acre property, which it bought from locally based Simon Property Group in December. Plans include a sale of out lots, a larger food court, a façade and landscaping upgrade and a goal to fill vacant anchor spaces by the end of 2008, said Ryan Zickler, a local retail broker who is consulting on the project. The new owners also are considering a new name for the 1.2-million-square-foot mall: Heartland of Lafayette. The most audacious part of the plan is a 75,000-square-foot entertainment center that would include an indoor go-kart track, bumper cars, glow-golf, laser tag and amusement games. Party rooms and buffet offerings also are in the works for the former home of Lazarus. And a PC gaming area would take another 40,000 square feet, Zickler said. What do you think?
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  • I think it is great that someone wants to better utilize that space but it would be better if it was redeveloped in a much more urban fashion. That would be a great spot for a project that urbanizes suburbia! I think the higher Indygo bus usage really signifies a need for denser and better developed projects. The area could also be better identified as an international district with the large immigrant populations moving into the area.

    Think of high-rise living and offices buildings connected to an efficiant mass-transit system. Something similar could also occur at Eastgate Consumer Mall in addition to the high-tech facility being currently built there.

    Though I do not like the new name. Does the NY group think that since this is the Midwest, there must be the word Hearland in everything. What's wrong with Lafayette Square. Maybe in the redevelopment they could include a public square.
  • Word is Schouten is quite a go karter. Bet he's in on the investment fueling this...
  • If the violence doesn't stop, who is going to go there?
  • Until someone reduces the crime rate and improves the reputation of the neighborhood in general, $12 million in improvements will be for naught.

    And as for the name--since we're not IN Lafayette, The Heartland of Lafayette is an insult.
  • So if they put all that stuff where LS Ayres used to be, what happens to Macy's? I like the ideas outlined by Paul Angelone in his post. I agree - they need to completely reinvent that area. The crime and its close proximity to all the retail on 38th Street and Crawfordsville Road render it less desirable as a retail outlet. Think outside the mall!!
  • I don't like this idea at all.. the name is also terrible.

    It's a tough call on what to do with it. The strong point that Laf. Sq. has is enormous amount of ethnic dining. That's pretty much the only reason I ever have to go over there. This might be just as lame, but maybe create an open-air market incorporating these restaurants and other retail stores. Sort of like a Clay Terrace, but for normal people.

    If Ballard really wants a China Town this area is prime for it.
  • Here's my question, agreeing with carmellilly and adding more: This type of entertainment venue will not be cheap to visit. That area is a lower-income demographic, and those in the area that DO have that sort of disposable income won't go there anyway because of the crime. So, if you build it, who will come to go-kart, game, play golf, etc.?

    Oh, and changing the name is a BAD idea. Kind of like how apartment complexes think changing their names is going to make everyone forget what a pit they are or how much violent crime has occurred there.
  • The idea is to revitalize the area, but I think this is the wrong approach. This area isn't going to be bad forever. To spur more development, someone has to take a chance.
  • I think Schouten got it wrong. If it's occupying the current vacant space, that space was formerly held by Lazarus followed by the New World Church. Macy's is the former Ayres spot and it would be silly to remove an anchor and replace it with a go-kart track.

    Regardless of the name, I think it's great that someone is taking the time, effort and money to revitalize this once vibrant part of Indianapolis.
  • I don't really think a name change is a bad idea, but Heartland of Lafayette is terrible (sort of like Marsh the Marketplace at Lockerbie). They gotta come up with something better.

    Good to hear from you Paul, Indy misses you and your talent.
  • Lana: You are right. The amusement park is planned for the former Lazarus. Macy's took over the Ayres space. Sorry guys.
  • Isn't Ryan Zickler the same guy who was working on SoDo?

    Anyway it sounds interesting, hope they can somehow overcome the percieved and partly true fear that surrounds Lafayette Scare Mall. Sounds like they want to make it into what Great Times is over in the Beech Grove area.
  • Yes, Babbage, he's the SoDo guy. He tells me that the new mall owners see a ton of potential in the Lafayette Square area, and they're obviously planning to back it up with a big investment. By the way, Zickler says the Heartland name is just a possibility for now.
  • This is just stupid. Karting is an expensive undertaking and there is just not the right socio/economic niche there. Many have tried, its just too dang expensive for the average guy. But, anything is better than what is there now. I do like the idea of embracing the diversity that is in that area.

    Heartland is a losing name. Flush it.

    Happy hour, time to make sure the beer is nice and cold.
  • Who is projecting the demographic in that area? Garden Ridge opened
    nearby. . . .doomed. People in that area (though you can't generalize) don't
    garden. The Wal-Mart should do well there. Go Karts and an expanded food
    court? If anything, that will drive away the remaining retailers. . .like Macys.
  • In regards to Matthew's comment I don't think these types of businesses should detract from retailers like Macys (in Macy's case I think they will detract business all by themselves). If you are able, you should check out my article that is coming out in next month's Planning magazine which is published by the American Planning Association. It discusses the shopping experience in Vietnam and how Southeast Asian malls are more economically mixed than malls in the United States. This is a far superior model and I hope the new mayor takes note.

    Enjoy the article!
  • Also, thanks JAK. I miss Indianapols too sometimes! It is a great city and I hope it does well in the future.
  • This has got to be one of the worst ideas I have ever seen:
    1. As previous posters have said go karting indoors is way too expensive for this demographic, it was tried downtown and failed, currently there is an indoor track in town on the north side but it at least has multiple levels and is really cool, but definatly not somewhere anyone can afford to visit on a regular basis.
    2. This just sounds like a trashy idea overall, with games, golf, etc.
    3. Definatly like the ideas about the embrasing the internationalism of the area
    4. an important thing that needs to be considered would be to find a way to draw people and their money from other areas back to the lafayette square area, since this idea will not bring dollars from the northside or the west burbs (who use to shop at LS before the crime got so bad and all the stores that we shop at moved out to metropolis)
    5. KEY WORD DIFFERENT, I mean if it's not going to be different at all i'll just go to metropolis, clayy terris, castleton, or for something different greenwood or downtown, GIVE ME A REASON TO VENTURE OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE AND GIVE THIS AREA A CHANCE.
    6. Definatly need to go with the international idea, hire a police force just for the mall (NOT rent-a-cops on segways), bring some new stores that are decent quality ( I don't mean over priced, but not trash, because thats part of the problem now), DEFINATLY HATE the name Idea, need something that identifies more with the mexican or black people of this area, I'd say consider adding a small outdoor component (like maybe, just rip the roof off the current small food court by burlington, that would do, and put a square in it and surround it with international boutiques like a marketplace),
    don't just sell outlot, develop them yourself so you control what goes on them to ensure that its not crap and matches the theme of the mall and I'd recommend buying some of the current outlots and redevloping them as well such as the gun/tire/ old kroger right off 38th as these degrade the street appeal of the mall, improve the look from 65, add an international movie theatre and entertainment venue where international shows could come to town or community groups could perform for low cost.

    Note to Matthew: Do you know what Garden Ridge Sells? If you look at their website you will note that they don't sell anything that has anything to do with a garden there more of a miscelanious retailer.
  • Something different and draw people with money certainly seems to be the purpose of creating an indoor karting experience at Lafayette Square for the West side of town.

    Perhaps I don't give the mass of suburbanites enough credit, but my impression is that any place where a white suburbanite regularly sees more than three African-Americans and/or Hispanic people seems to get labeled dangerous or ghetto.
  • Indoor, adult karting runs about $100 per peson or $1000 per hour. It can work, but most of them fold due to wrong locations, or more likely - bad management.
  • Fastimes indoor kart racing (96th & Keystone Ave.) is $20 for each 8 minute race. http://www.ftik.com/general_info.htm
  • As stated previously, why aren't the developers looking at capitalizing on the international vibe of the area? (restaurants, Sagawa). Lafayette Square is the closest retail center to where I live and I'd love a reason to visit it again. A karting center and video arcade aren't going to do it. Guess I'll keep on spending my money downtown or in the far suburbs.
  • Hey folks, new to this site, grew up in Indy and hope to go back some day. I've been reading for the while and it seems a lot of folks here have great insight and I enjoy reading your perspectives.

    Regarding Lafayette Square revitalization, I agree with most posters that the go-kart/gaming theme is horrendous idea. Thundermutt at #19 made an unfortunate but very realistic point by recognizing that a large presence of ethnic minorities (AfAm or Latino) would most likely scare a lot of people away. But the main problem of demographics here is the fact that karting/gaming would most likely draw a predominantly teenaged/young adult population, particularly the age group that (regardless of race) commits the most crime. I frankly don't think white suburbanites would be nearly as fearful in Lafayette Square if it were nothing but middle aged or elderly minorities, but when you concentrate a bunch of young adults together you are often asking for trouble. GreatTimes as worked for years on the South Side (where I grew up) in an area with virtually no crime but it still requires a considerable amount of supervision. The name Heartland at Lafayette is ridiculous as well--not to mention inaccurate sounding.

    Geez I didn't want to sound so negative on my first post, but at least it sounds like we're all in agreement!
  • City Doofus: that is for 8 minutes for open karting. hardly a Day at the Track if you will. Open karting does not make money. Never has, never will. Karting makes money by booking groups at the rates I quoted above. What exactly is your point again?
  • The demographic of this area hasn't really changed much for many years. It was pretty much the same when I lived in the area about 15 years ago.

    That said, with all the talk about how a karting facility would NEVER work here, didn't Stephan Johannsons Indoor Karting facility (just down the way at 36th and Lafayette Rd.) make a preety good run of it for several years? And that was JUST karting. This proposed addition to Lafayette Square includes much more. I don't think some of you are giving the area a fair chance.
  • I know a little about the karting/racing business. :D

    Stefan's was a successful business for years, when it was the ONLY karting facility in Indy (and for a while - the country), and when racing at IMS was still popular and not run by Tony George's IRL, etc etc. The property was eventually bled dry by Stefan and his partners when it was then turned over to a guy who ran it as ProDrive Karting but was only open for special events - like I said that was the only profitable part of the business. Company outings, corporate sponsored events, bachelor parties, and proper marketing and promotion were the formula for success there. Another thing that helped kill it was the massive gap left when the medical supply/pharmaceutical business (remember how they spent lavishly back in the day?) changes in their hospitality spending.

    That area has changed drastically in the last 15 years. Note all the major retailers that have left that area, and note the influx of lower income residents and the type of businesses that they support.

    Granted you can get to 38th & Lafayette pretty quickly and trouble free from any downtown or airport hotel, but indoor karting, at the performance levels, is a costly proposition. And that ain;t the beautiful part of town either.

    Could it work again? I guess I should not say never, but they better have one hell of a business plan, and a ton of capital. And no way I would put it in that part of town.

    My .02. YMMV.
  • I think the
  • I think the International Market idea is a really good one. Anchored by the retail stores already there, or coming in, with International boutiques especially in an area. Don't know that the open air boutiques would be such a good idea here in Indy, the weather would pretty well cut out 3 to 5 months of trade. Could even have year-round IRL and Nascar, Colts and Pacers shops.

    Think about the International Market in Honolulu - That place and the ethnic restaurants around it are always jammed. Two of the better local ethic restaurants are already right there, India Palace and Hacienda Restaurant.

    Why do we so often seem to be snobs about our suggestions? Business traffic is business traffic. I lived in that neighbor for 9 years. I wasn't afraid to go to the mall, I just hate mall crowds. I would certainly go to specialty shops, especially if they were spread around outlots spread around a core mall. Lots of room around there. Maybe Don could be persuaded to move his range after all, he doesn't want to make money....

    The Heartland name is awful, but maybe Lafayette Square does have a stereotype in peoples minds because of the incidents.

    I just think we need to get the central core moving again. Sorry downtowners, I think the whole city needs attention and TLC, not just downtown. But far north and far south and far east and far west have all just gotten too far, especially with gas the way it is. Maybe it is time to reconcentrate on the central areas to give us all some variety (good areas for locally owned food, too) especially for the weekends which is when most of us are out and about.
  • I am a Black Man, who purchased a new home just north of Lafayette Square, 9 years ago. Moving from Castleton to an area 2 minutes from beautiful Eagle Creek state park, a 15 minute drive from Indpls Airport, and a 15 minute drive from sitting in my seats in the former Colts stadium, I thought this area was a Gem in the rough.

    What I didn’t know was that this area is riddle with Section 8 housing. This coupled with a massive amount of sub prime casualties and a passive police presence has made this area ripe for criminals. We assumed they kept Lafayette Sq. opened so the Black, White and Latino hood rats would have somewhere to pilfer other than Castleton or the Metropolis. The 2 times that My wife and I went into Lafayette Sq. seemed that every child from grade school age and up would head there after school and hang out with every drop out that was hanging there all day.

    Its encouraging that they are planning to upgrade the Square, but it will be all for naught if they don’t flood the area with police who can pull over teenagers riding 2 to 4 deep, especially during school hours.

    Ideally, an ordinance requiring anyone under the age of 18 to be accompanied by an adult in retail facilities would solve a lot of problems. Right now Wal-Mart, which is starting to look scary and Lafayette Sq, is a free drop off childcare service for parents who don’t care.

    With homes that range $1,000,000 plus and lower within a 15 mile radius of Lafayette Sq. it’s a shame not to capitalize on those potential customers because the city needs an area for the hoot rats to congregate now that the eastside (Washington Sq.) is lost. This area has potential to be a great area with a few ordinance changes and an increased police presence.
  • I like the international market idea too. The proposed name alone will kill the thing.
    Two ideas I see here I like are international market..and dare I say it here in Indy...a mass transit hub for the northwest side....

    Inever heard Ballard wanted a Chinatown....maybe what he should focus on is Little Mexico on West Washington. Maybe some street projects like 38th...could be great.
  • Wow. It is comical to hear so-called experts state that karting never has and never will be successful We have been doing it successfully for 30 years in Michigan. The problem is that your so-called experts have never seen it done right. Adult karting doesn't work very well in the United States, however does well in Europe. Concession go-karting has been and IS very successful. The successful facilities attract the families and makes the environment family friendly. Good operators know how to get rid of the bad apples causing problems and make it attractive to families to come in over and over. Although your so-called expert states it is a $100 to visit the truth is that the average family will spend $8 to $15 per person and spend about 31/2 hours. The trick isn't to offer a simple go-kart track but to offer a variety of activities that appeal to young families. Corporate parties, school outings and birthday parties are a great side benefit but the general public will drive the business.
    My point is that this industry is not unlike any other. The right operators can make the business be a successful asset to any development. Its one thing to build these and quite another thing to operate them. We've done both successfully for years and continue to grow.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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