Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain to open first Indiana multiplex near Lafayette Square Mall

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A rendering of the planned Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 3898 Lafayette Road. (Rendering courtesy of Fabio de la Cruz)

A Texas-based cinema chain plans to open its first Indiana multiplex in the International Marketplace neighborhood by Lafayette Square early next year by recasting the former Georgetown 14 Cinema.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a dine-in theater chain headquartered in Austin, plans to open the 14-screen theater in the spring at 3898 Lafayette Road.

Renovations to the nearly 45,000-square-foot theater are expected to run $15 million for building owner Fabio de la Cruz, whose firm Sojos Capital is redeveloping various properties throughout the neighborhood. Alamo has agreed to operate the theater.

Alamo Drafthouse co-founder Tim League said that he believes moviegoers will quickly adjust to the chain’s approach to the theatrical experience, which focuses on strictly enforced no-talking and no-texting policies. The eatery element allows patrons to place orders for food and drink, to be delivered to their seats.

He said the improvements being made to the theater property include only a few structural modifications, mostly to accommodate the construction of a large kitchen, as well as a bar and lounge area. The total occupancy limit for the theater is expected to be about 1,300 people.

Alamo will offer standard concession fare such as popcorn, candy and soft drinks, as well as pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, salads and milkshakes. The location will also offer a full bar with beer, wine and various cocktails. The bar area is expected to feature more than 30 beer taps—most of the offerings locally sourced—and a lounge area for trivia and various theater parties and activities.

The 40-location chain also is awaiting extensive renovations to each of the screening rooms, including expansion of the aisles to seven feet wide, new risers with recliners that have food trays and new 4K laser projection systems. There will be 993 seats across the theater’s 14 screening rooms.

League said a second phase of construction that could bring a high-end, large-format screen to the location is being considered, but plans have not been finalized.

“It’s very possible, but I can’t give you a definitive answer other than I love premium large format offerings, and that’s what we’d like to do,” League said.

That experience, known as the Big Show, is offered at several Alamo locations. It features a curved screen that is at least 66 feet wide, along with fully reclining seats and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. It would go in the eastern portion of the building, which is currently occupied by a Save A Lot grocery store that plans to close later this month. The grocery store occupies about 15,000 square feet, and the expansion on the theater would take about 2,000 square feet of that.

The building, which was constructed in 1983, is owned by Perez Investment Fund LLC, a holding company controlled by de la Cruz, who acquired it in July 2021 for $3.85 million.

League said he has been to Indianapolis previously to attend board game convention Gen Con, staying at an Airbnb just a few blocks from the mall. He said he has been encouraged by the investments de la Cruz and others have made in the area over the past few years.

“I really like this neighborhood and I love the development and the enthusiasm of what he’s trying to do to redevelop this area,” League said. “I think [the theater] is possibly a little forward-looking, but I also I believe in the project and I believe in that part of Indianapolis.”

Sojos Capital is in the process of renovating Lafayette Square Mall into a mixed-use development to be known as Window to the World. De la Cruz told IBJ in August he plans to unveil an updated master plan for the property later this year, which he expects will reflect a substantially increased investment he and other firms plan to make throughout the neighborhood in the coming years.

Last month, de la Cruz also announced plans for a community center in the former Aldi’s grocery store at 3540 Commercial Drive, just east of Lafayette Road.

De la Cruz said he believes Alamo Drafthouse could be a catalyst for renewed interest in entertainment offerings in the corridor, and could be a good way for visitors from across central Indiana to reacquaint themselves with the neighborhood.

“Alamo’s leaders understand how to bring the whole experience together, where every seat is a good seat, where the quality of the image has to be top-notch,” de la Cruz said. “It took time, effort and a lot of explaining to ensure that they came aboard, but … they really thought it would be a good match, just like we did.”

League said he has long had interest in expanding to more locations across the Midwest—the company already has locations in St. Louis and Chicago—but never found the right opportunity or timing. Now, he said, Indianapolis offers both.

“We can only move so fast … and we’re in a stage now where we’re looking at more opportunities around in the Midwest area,” he said. “So I’m super, super excited to get there, and I apologize for taking so long.”

He also said the proximity to the most ethnically diverse portion of the Indianapolis market also presents Alamo an opportunity to lean into its unique film offerings, which includes not only traditional Hollywood releases but those from India and other major foreign markets.

“Our purpose is to serve the community that surrounds the theater,” League said, “and that will be reflected in our local programming.”

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29 thoughts on “Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain to open first Indiana multiplex near Lafayette Square Mall

  1. “which focuses on strictly enforced no-talking and no-texting policies” Funny, in this area? I would be more concerned with shootings and robberies then trying to enforce no talking and no texting..

    1. You clearly aren’t from the area and only giving you limited opinion based off misleading information you heard on social media. Let’s stop with the racist undertone and fear mongering. I know its easy to sit behind your computer and keyboard and type negative things but this area is on a rebound and new life is being breath in by outside investors that’s willing to use their own money to turn this part of town around back to its glory days. Im sure if this project goes as planned and everything the investor envisioned comes online, I bet you’ll find a reason to come visit.

    2. Kevin P.
      “ Racist undertone and fear mongering “. ???? What a b.s.
      cheap shot.

      Did you forget all the neighborhood crime and problems in that area
      that drove Lafayette Square and the surrounding businesses into near extinction??

      I remember when Lafayette Square and the area businesses were very prosperous. Then the crime drive businesses and people away.

      Facts are facts.

    3. Keith B, you’re all over the place. One minute you blame it on the high crime as the sole reason Lafayette and other retail have left the area and that’s not totally accurate. ( the economy and online shopping is the major reason) Then with the same breath you hope this project succeeds and your all a sudden optimistic. Maybe you have issue that many in the post also can sense passive aggressive demeanor and a pinch of racial disconnect on your part because you aren’t aware that you keep beating the same old out of tune drum about crime in an area you probably don’t even live in. I grew up shopping at Lafayette sq and not once had a bad experience. Yes crime is high in every major city but to use that as a talking point every time an article comes up about an investor willing to invest in the area is pathetic on your part. If you’re just that concerned about the crime in the area, how about you make sure not to come that way?

    4. Kevin P.

      Yes! I hope this investment by Alamo and other investments in the Lafayette Square area are very successful.
      If crime is not a factor, then hopefully it will thrive.l

      Crime was the driving force that drove people and businesses away from the
      Lafayette Square area. Online shopping and Covid had nothing to do with it.
      I knew many people that abandoned shopping in the Lafayette Square area for
      The Greenwood Mall Shopping area.

      No one wants Indianapolis succeed more than me. But crime is a major
      issue in our city.

    5. Kevin P–

      Why on earth would online shopping have caused Lafayette Square to collapse in the late 1990s…yet it didn’t have that same effect on Castleton and Greenwood?

      The neighborhood around Lafayette (and Washington Square) began to decline and standard middle-class retailers could no longer justify keeping businesses operating in Lafayette Square. Which was nicknamed “Lafayette Scare” for no reason whatsoever, of course.

      I’m willing to admit it could turn itself around. But let’s not kid ourselves why the area has so many huge hulking big boxes that are empty. They were tidy middle-class lawns in the 1980s. Now there are bars on the windows of homes and rusted cars parked in the grass. It was an early suburb and now we’re expecting it to become hip among yuppies? Good luck!

      You know the person is flailing in the argument when they have to resort to calling something “racist”. Nobody cares about being racist anymore. Heck, I just go to the IBJ comment section so I can try to learn how to be come an even better racist.

    6. LAUREN B. first off you’re inaccurate on your assessment of why Lafayette ultimately failed. It’s a known fact that big department stores were leaving traditional malls nationwide. Simon properties admitted they seen a decline and hence why they sold all there shares in Circle center. Greenwood Park, Keystone Fashion Mall as well as Castleton are Simon owned and those malls are funded and managed by the largest mall management group in the country. Lafayette has been bought and sold several times by companies not as successful at managing malls as Simon. Im not sure where you been that you aren’t aware that the decline of retail shopping at malls have been on the decline since the mid 2000’s. You can’t find one source that says Sears or any other large retailer left Lafayette or Washington sq solely because of crime alone. I’ll wait for you to post a reliable source that shows any company saying that. Why did circle center loose its anchor stores? Slow sales, that’s it

    7. KEITH B. could you be as so kind to post a reliable source where any major retail saying they left Lafayette or Washington because of crime or major theft? I’ll wait for you to provide that source if you’re capable of even doing so

    8. Kevin–

      What’s your definition of a reliable source? JCPenney left Lafayette Square almost 20 years ago, long before it was the failing company it is today. And despite that, it’s still in Greenwood and Castleton. A generally successful retailer does not pull out of a location if the location is thriving. In the end, the financials didn’t justify staying at Lafayette Square. Maybe it was a combination of poor management (lease rates too high but the amenities not good enough), reduced foot traffic, merchandise “shrinkage”, the growing appeal of shopping in Plainfield/Avon–a number of things. Either way, fewer people spent money at Lafayette Square.

      Besides, the issues aren’t confined to Lafayette Square Mall. All the other strip malls around it are just as bad. Many are worse. So we can’t really blame mall management.

      Your slavish defense of a sad part of town is noteworthy but not in touch with reality. I don’t want the area to fail. It has very cool restaurants. But it’s generally not an attractive part of town, and slapping a bunch of paint on a few buildings isn’t going to make it competitive with Mass Ave or Broad Ripple or Castleton or Carmel. Or Avon.

    1. im just guessing here but I bet you’re between 50-65yrs old off your simple comment alone. I’m also willing to bet you don’t even live in the area.

  2. Some of ya’ll can’t wait to inject a little casual racism into the comments! Don’t go if its not for you! But do it *quietly* please. Some of us are trying to appreciate investment in underserved communities. Have a blessed day.

    1. 100% agreed. This new location is close to my home and I couldn’t be more excited for the investment, especially with the sudden loss of Studio Movie Grill!

    2. The investment is good for the area. I hope this movie theater is successful
      and sill help draw other economic development in also.

      *But don’t pretend for one minute the crime that drove people and businesses
      away from Lafayette Square and the surrounding area. Screaming racism is a cheap shot and doesn’t change the facts.*

      Lafayette Square and the surrounding retail centers were almost completely
      abandoned because of the crime.

      Hopefully the area will make a great come back.

  3. Comments in this post from people who haven’t been in Indianapolis city limits for 20 years.

    I grew up near this district and it is on the upswing compared to 20 years ago. It is in my eyes the premiere area for food right now, and I think this will be great to add a bit more cultural activities in the district.

    I still remain skeptical of Cruz’s ambitions, but if this opens, this will be a win for the area. And honestly, every other neighborhood with a strip mall or old theater location should be questioning why they couldn’t score Alamo.

  4. See a trend here and it’s not LSM

    Here are some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Indianapolis.
    Near Eastside. Located to the northeast of downtown, this area is bounded by the Dwight D. …
    Martindale-Brightwood. Martindale-Brightwood is situated to the north of Downtown Indianapolis. …
    Far Eastside. …

  5. LSM area has not been “dangerous” in over 20 years, even then it was overblown. The death knell of the previous iteration of LSM wasn’t that perceived crime, but it was the suburban sprawl that has exploded in places like Avon, Plainfield, Danville and Brownsburg. Retailers jumped ship once JCP moved to Plainfield (another mall that never lived up to its potential) and divestment spiraled out of control with car dealerships flocking to the previous corn fields of Avon. Visiting the area, you can tell there has been some more investment with the strip centers being remodeled with many local small businesses taking over the shells of previous corporate decay. My hope, with the coming of Alamo, that the area can retain its unique businesses that cater to the local and very diverse neighborhoods and helped stabilize what was abandoned or undesirable to the national chains. The Indianapolis metro area doesn’t need more TJ Maxx locations.

    1. I own shopping centers. Shane M. is mostly correct. LSM was built with 6 department stores and very few restaurants. Customers would come from Danville IL and other distant locations to shop there. If you were to build it today it would have 2 department stores and many, many restaurants. That shift away from department stores doomed LSM as a REGIONAL retail destination.

      Today the area is leased up in almost all the smaller spaces, it is only the large, older boxes that are unfilled. The work that Sojos Capital and others are putting in will transform the area to a neighborhood. People will love living there, in part because of its proximity to so many cultural attractions, the airport and downtown.

  6. Okay, point taken. But why was the “suburban sprawl” so much more pronounced over there or the far east side, but much less so in other districts?

    One factor we’re leaving out: the 38th street corridor is almost entirely within the IPS district. Same with 38th/Post over on the east side. Another factor that makes it undesirable. 38th Street west of I-465 (near Eagle Creek) is perfectly fine, but then, that area isn’t part of IPS.

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