With bricks-and-mortar retail on the decline, city development officials are showing concern for the Castleton area, which has been a prime destination for shoppers since the opening of the state’s largest mall in 1972.
The Department of Metropolitan Development has issued a request for qualifications to help it find a vendor that will develop a revitalization plan for the Castleton area as well as an investment strategy and action plan to achieve the objectives of the proposal.
DMD officials said the plan should “respond to emerging challenges confronting the Castleton area, including evolving national shifts in commercial retailing and aging commercial, office and multifamily areas.”
There was little development in Castleton until almost a half-century ago, when tremendous growth quickly followed the construction of Castleton Square Mall. The subsequent development of big-box stores, strip malls, office parks, apartments and restaurants turned what had been mostly farmland into one of the busiest commercial areas in Indiana.
But the area has seen declining retail and office occupancy rates in recent years, as well as an increase in crime.
City planners say the area still has a lot going for it, which they hope to capitalize on in revitalization plans.
DMD planners say vendors who respond to the RFQ must build on “positive momentum” created by several developments, including:
— the planned development of the Nickel Plate Trail connecting Noblesville into downtown Fishers. “Whether the portion in Marion County remains rail or is converted to trail is undetermined, but regardless, the corridor passes through the core of the Castleton area and continues to the State Fairgrounds area before connecting to the Monon Trail into downtown Indianapolis,” DMD staff said.
— The Clear Path 465 project, in which the Indiana Department of Transportation is expanding and reconfiguring the Interstate 69 and I-465 exchange.
— Community Hospital North’s recently opened $60 million Cancer Center on Shadeland Avenue near East 82nd Street.
The study area will consist of the entire Castleton area, which is roughly bounded by the White River on the west; 96th Street on the north; Hague Road on the east; and 75th Street, I-465, and 82nd Street on the south. However, planners expect redevelopment will be needed on the 82nd Street corridor between I-465 and I-69.
The DMD said the vendor that is chosen would become “an integral member” of the city project team, consisting of the vendor’s personnel, city employees and other consultants when needed.
The vendor’s plan is expected to first “understand the underlying economic conditions of the Castleton and Interstate 69 commercial corridor, including evaluating the relative competitiveness of current development types and patterns in the Castleton area.”
The chosen vendor will be responsible for conducting a market assessment that includes all types of real estate, evaluates the physical conditions of properties and analyzes current redevelopment plans.
The vendor also will be expected to increase community engagement through a stakeholder committee, focus groups and public meetings.
In addition to a master plan, the vendor must identify an implementation strategy and public finance plan.
The vendor is expected to have “demonstrated expertise” in real estate development, socioeconomic analysis, strategic planning, community engagement and public finance.
RFQ responses are due by the end of the month. The city hopes to begin interviewing applicants in September.