Sears departure stings mall

October 17, 2008
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Lafayette Square MallThe decision by Sears Holding Co. to close its store at Lafayette Square Mall could deal a serious blow to efforts by a New York company to revitalize the 1.2-million-square-foot property. In a notice filed with the state, Sears blamed "a change in business circumstances" for its decision to lay off 110 employees and close the department store and automotive center by Jan. 11, 2009. The move, reported in Friday's IBJ Daily, is a major setback for the mall's new owner, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which has been working to stem an exodus of retailers since it bought the property from Simon Property Group late last year. The company is investing $12 million in a revamp (shown here) that includes a go-kart track and amusement center to replace one of two already-vacant anchor spaces. Mall spokeswoman Amanda Royalty said Sears hasn't made any official announcement. "We don't anticipate we'll have the space empty," she said. Sears isn't the only retailer struggling. In fact, many are pinning their last hopes on a holiday season that could be grim. Are there any stores you think won't make it?
  • This is not good news for Lafayette Square; I hope this isn't the last straw that seals the same fate suffered by the Eastgate mall on the east side. But who knows, it may prevail and be revitalized.
  • I really can't see how Macy's will survive this mall any longer. It's too obvious, this mall is already doomed, no matter who the redeveloper is, it still will attract the wrong clientele because once a ghetto, always a ghetto.
  • Wow, racism is alive and well. Apparently some people see a brown face (or two or ten) and decide I'm never going back there.

    It's not a ghetto thing; there's plenty of purchasing power even in a low-income area. The issue is that there are too many enclosed malls and old-style department stores in this market. Plus, there's just way too much retail on W. 38th St. and Georgetown and Lafayette. It's too bad that Simon found the greater fool to buy that mall when the right solution was the wrecking ball and total redevelopment.
  • Funny how no mention of race was made, only the word ghetto which generally speaking means poor people and crime.

    People with money tend to not commit heinous crimes, loiter, and vandalize public spaces.

    So who's the real racist here, thundermutt?
  • I would have to agree, the term ghetto has nothing to with race. Fact is, the area IS very ghetto (and I spent a good part of my youth living just down the street).
  • Agreed, this area is very, very ghetto. Nothing racist about it.

    Btw, why is the code that I have to enter below astapp???

    Gettin kinda kinky here Cory?
  • When mall developers announce they're moving toward go-cart tracks, and other venues that attract the youth crowd, serious retail is often doomed. Think back about Union Station and its decision to become more of an entertainment attraction (with a go-cart track.) The result is the mall becomes a place to
  • just hang out rather than buy anything beyond fast food. The sometimes unruly crowds can intimidate moms with children and older shoppers that have money to spend. Pity the developers who made such a bad decision.
  • It's people like dustin that make this country great! Wait. What?
  • First of all if we are going to argue the meaning of a term lets just post the definition:

    –noun, plural -tos, -toes.
    1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.
    2. (formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.
    3. a section predominantly inhabited by Jews.
    4. any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.

    Now, as far as Sears leaving goes, it is a business decision and most of us know that Sears/Kmart is hurting financially. I simply believe that this retail area has lived a fruitful life and it is now time to redevelop. I agree that there is still buying power in the area, but it is old and run down. I drive down 38th everyday to and from work and I have to say the road itself is due for an overhaul. People move on to new and improved.

    On a much smaller scale I just watched 71st and Binford get redeveloped from a couple empty, run down strip centers into new fully leased, redeveloped strip center and a new Kroger under construction. The one problem with this area is that Entenmann's vacated one center to move into this one.

    If the mall is redeveloped into a new shopping center you will likely see the likes of Best Buy, Staples, Uncle Bill's and other retailers jump ship from 38th street to move to a new and improved Lafayette Mall. Speedway could even lose the Kohl's and every year we will have this conversation with a newly vacated shopping center on the west side.
  • I think there are way too many half empty strip malls on the westside especially along 38th street . It's too bad that this Sears location could not convert into a Kmart since there aren't any on the westside. Speedway mall is also hurting and losing stores. Lane Bryant which used to be in Lafayette Square before the Speedway location remodeled, close this past summer. CVS also moved from Speedway and built a stand alone store by demolishing a Wendy's near the Marsh.
    Trader's Point has taken a lot of business from those two areas.
    I agree with Cory either redevelop or the area will get worse before getting better.
  • Retail on the west side (in my opinion) has been over developed during the past 5 or so years. The Metropolis mall in Plainfield really hurt Lafayette Square, and both are hurting for retailers.....people call the 38th street area ghetto but if you travel a few miles north you're in the Eagle Creek, and Traders Pointe areas........places I wouldn't call ghetto. If they tear down a lot of Lafayette Square and redevelop it in a similar fashion to Glendale, I think it could survive and even help spark redevelopment.
    I also think that the logic in building Hamilton Town Center was poorly thought out. It is not more than a few miles from Castleton and Clay Terrace. It was sold to the city of Noblesville as a high end shopping mall......I went there over the weekend and the only store that they had that couldn't have been found at Castleton was Banana Republic. Everything else could be found at any other Simon location for the most part. I think the area can support the movie theatre and the other strip mall stores........but I don't feel it will ever become another Keystone or Castleton for that matter.
  • Glendale has benefitted from a makeover and actually looks a lot better then I thought it could. The area around West 34th Moeller Road could also use a makeover. There are just certain spots in the city that have not been kept up but you can't put a Panera Bread at all those locations (lol). The area east of Castleton is starting to look fugly with Shoe Carnival relocating, Steak n Shake closing and IHop sitting empty.
  • speaking of Glendale....who designed the parking lot. corey you should do a story on this, its a nightmare. Pull into the parking lot from Rural Street and see what i am talking about.

    Makes NO sense.
  • I still can't believe and understand why both Hamiltown Town Centre and Clay Terrace were billed as upscale when in fact they aren't. It's just ridiculous how the developers sold the idea of such that, but then again, it's Indiana. A lot of people in the nearby rural areas probably travel to these places thinking they are going upscale. Even when I was living in Indy, I lived inside of the city and was too smart to realize that anything that was so called upscale was just a joke. Like Shane said about Banana Republic being the only upscale retailer in Hamiltown Town Centre, but JCPenney, Stein Mart, Aeropostale, American Eagle, and countless other common mediocre retailers are upscale? Give me a break.
  • I hope it does fail. If something must happen - it best happens quickly. There should be a better development there. Malls are temporary - that's just crap retail. It's always that way.
  • The west side needs more upscale and formal clothing stores.
    Women want to shop for nice career clothes and you have to go to Metropolis or Castleton for that. It would be a shame to just give in and let the whole area go. I live near Glendale and I am glad that the neighborhood fought to save it.
  • I see upscale as a relative term. Indianapolis and central Indiana is one of the most affordable places to live in the country. So if you are comparing upscale to the likes of shops you would find in Miami, New York or Beverly Hills then yes what we have is no where close to upscale.

    Plus, by adding the term upscale to the marketing material just means the developer can charge more in rent.
  • Sears at Washington Square will be next to close, its always a ghost town in that store, and mall for that matter. I hate to see the eastside or westside lose any retailers but all retail chains are hurting right now for the most part.
  • I think maybe Sears in general is going under. The only thing that was really keeping it afloat where their appliances, and now HH Gregg, Clark, Frye's, Best Buy ect are really hurting them.
  • I would agree with Shane regarding Sears - they are hurting and might as well become a Lands End retailer - have you seen their Castleton store lately with 75% of the first floor dedicated to the brand? Unfortunately this American icon retailer has seen the last of its glory days.

    As for HTC, I would agree that this isn't an upscale mall - but it does offer a fantastic place for anyone in NE Fishers easy access to shopping and dining that can't easily be found NE of 116th and I69. Otherwise, it is a shlept to Castleton, Keystone or Clay Terrace. I know many friends and neighbors who have welcomed its opening and frequent the mall regularly. I don't see this turning sour any time soon.
  • Best Buy on 38th street is relocating to the Wal-mart development on Lafayette Road in '09.
  • The problem with Sears is that they have no identity. They never put a focus on the products that work best for them Craftsman, and Kenmore. If they would have scaled back their stores 10 years ago, and focused on their core brands, they would be much better off today.

    Outside of those 2 brands, everything else that they sell can be found at Target, which now has more locations and is much more convenient to shop at. Just ask any of our wives. :-)
  • Lafayette Square's biggest problem has been its reputation. Once people started calling it the scare, it was doomed. Now everyone who lives outside of 465 truly believes that they are going to get robbed, maimed, beaten, murdered, raped, etc. if they visit this mall. I have been shopping there since I was a teenager, I'm 29 now, and I have never suspected even a hint of foul play while I have been shopping there, and I'm a very observant person.
    I do not believe its racist for anyone to characterize the west side of Indy as ghetto, it's human nature to fear what you don't know. Most people aren't comfortable going where there are old beat up cars playing loud rap music, or teenagers hanging out, being obnoxiously loud. The same way that people fear Lafayette Square, the entire south side of Indianapolis has a negative stigma amongst many of my friends. To us, pickup trucks with confederate flag bumper stickers, and country music are things that make us feel unwelcome.
    My point is, not that anyone is racist, but that most of the patrons of Lafayette Square do not fit into many retailers target demographic, that's why you've seen them vacating. It is not about race, its about the numbers, plain and simple. Most developers don't understand that the cookie cutter mall approach will not work everywhere. That is especially true of the previous owners.
  • Ok upscale offerings are found at the Fashion Mall and Circle Centre... that's it. Clay Terrace has Indigo Nation, as far as I know so far, has premium denim as well as other designer fashions not usually found elsewhere. Now, speaking of upscale, like I said, I can't understand why developers use that term alone. What is their intention? Do they really think Indiana folks are THAT stupid or do they just think mostly rural country bumpkins are going to be the main clientele, since Hamiltown and Clay Terrace are literally close to the sticks. When the Plainfield mall was billed as upcale, did Premier think mostly hicks will find that mall cosmopolitan and oh wow, this is luxury!?

    I really can't see how Lafayette Square Mall is going to do any better. First of all, the Shoppers World store is going to continue to attract mainly low income customers. If people have enough money to buy products that are pricier and higher quality than Shoppers World, then they will continue to travel further. I can't picture someone from the far eastside, southside, northeast side wanting to travel to a store that carries crap and probably ten year late fashions and furniture that fall apart after a couple of weeks. If they want crap, then I am sure they are close to Family Dollar, Dollar General, Big Lots and other discount off price stores. Like I said, I think it's too late for Lafayette Square to make a huge turnaround. Macy's will be going very soon, I can smell it.
  • Macy's lease does expire in 2009.
  • Not all is bad on the west side. Centre West at I-65 & Lafayette Road is doing well. Both Walmart and Garden Ridge do well and Centre Properties just added 7 new clients -- including Best Buy.
  • Lafayette Square should be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use, development, with just enough retail to provide for a pleasant inviting, walkable community. Such an upscale development (think something that looks like Clay Terrace except mostly residential with some street level retail) could draw some other discretionary shoppers from outside the immediate area who currently go to Metropolis, Traders Point, or wherever, and if successful could also draw additional residents (those with more discretionary income) to the area. By eliminating the mall's retail space, perhaps some of the scads of empty retail space might have a bit better chance of getting filled, although ideally some more of that would be replaced with high quality residential or mixed-use projects.

    It might be helpful if there wasn't so many hundreds or thousands of acres zoned for retail in the area. Perhaps, Centre West is currently a success, but when a new WalMart simply results in the closing of, replaces the K-Mart & Sears and whatever else has closed recently, and Best Buy relocates to leave an empty box on 38th Street, I don't see it as a major net gain for the area. Yeah, it's a bit shinier, but there's still no less dinge overall.
  • Also very few restaurant chains have gone to the west side either.
    I think I read that Olive Garden had closed recently.
  • Its all about the numbers, you are correct. Nobody from Downtown, N,S, or E sides are going to travel to LSQ. Why would they?

    The best bet is to attract the rest of the remaining ghetto stores (Big Lots, FDollar, etc) and make the place one big flea market/dollar store. Have you ever been to the auctions on the southside every Wednesday? Talk about a demographic! They sell all kinds of comfot food ad recycled junk goes for pennies on the dollar. But they are packed every Wednesday, and people are hauling out truckloads of old crap all day long.

    We simply have too much retail and not enough $$$ to support it. Until trickle down economics work (which will be never) you're always gonna have some low inclome folks.

    Deal with it.

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