Reopening of former Lafayette Square Mall postponed

Lafayette Square Mall has seen upgrades to much of its roof, as well as fresh coats of paint to many of its buildings. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

The owner of the former Lafayette Square Mall on the northwest side has postponed the property’s reopening due to construction delays.

The shopping center at 3919 Lafayette Road, now known as Window to the World, was expected to reopen Nov. 21, ahead of Thanksgiving weekend shopping. But Indianapolis-based Sojos Capital announced Friday that it has delayed those plans and instead will offer tenants temporary space in a yet-to-be-identified vacant anchor store to allow them to resume business.

In a statement, the firm said it was pleased with progress on the development—part of a sweeping, $200 million-plus effort to revamp the International Marketplace neighborhood—but the building would remain closed until work is finished.

“One of the most intense components of the project is the complete renovation and build-out of the food, beverage and entertainment area,” the statement said, in part. “By not remaining open for business, we will be able to further accelerate renovation efforts while guaranteeing the safety of our tenants, employees and visitors.”

In June, Sojos announced plans to shutter the mall for about three months, from Aug. 29 to Nov. 21, to allow crews to complete various upgrades including extensive electrical work and new flooring installation.

About half of the available tenant spaces at the 1.2-million-square-foot mall were occupied when it temporarily shut down.

Sojos said Friday it is continuing to meet with each of its tenants to create plans for operating in the interim and offer advisory services, in addition to assisting with moves to the temporary space.

“We are providing business mentorship opportunities and as-needed landlord improvements,” the statement said. “Tenants will also have the opportunity to relocate to a free, temporary space in a former anchor store, open to the general public, to allow them to continue doing business until construction is complete. “

Sojos Capital principal Fabio de la Cruz told IBJ in July that at least $50 million had already been spent on improvements to the mall and other surrounding properties, including repainting much of the building’s exterior with bold and vibrant colors and several murals.

As part of the improvements that have temporarily shuttered the property, de la Cruz committed up to six months of free rent for tenants during the closure, ahead of a major shift in rent structure for the property that likely will include a higher base rent as well as a percentage of sales, much like what occurs with many other shopping centers.

A revised opening date for the shopping center has not yet been announced. Sojos officials declined to comment beyond the information in Friday’s announcement.

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9 thoughts on “Reopening of former Lafayette Square Mall postponed

  1. Roof replacements can be expensive, especially for large structures like a mall. I have no idea if it’s $50M levels of expensive though.

    But here’s the website for Sojos Capital: https://sojoscapital.com/

    Does this look like the site of a company that would command $200M+ to invest in an economically distressed area? It shows no history of the company, no profile of past initiatives, no links to the property management companies listed, and, at least for me, the link to “Windows to the World” is broken. This looks like a shell website to create the illusion of legitimacy to a phantom company.

    Maybe we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but come on now. Little as I know about this subject in general, even I can tell that the market wouldn’t support what these folks at Sojos are trying to promise.

    People were noting that this had “scam” written all over it a few months ago. And, in simply talking about it, we engaged in far more investigative journalism than the IBJ has so far. I would pity the equity partners who were taken for a ride on this charade, but if they were that gullible they probably had it coming.

    1. The IBJ did a story a year ago and listed all of his companies. They even linked to it in the story above. They also quoted two people who … had the same concerns as you.

      https://www.ibj.com/articles/under-the-radar-developer-poised-to-redefine-lafayette-square-neighborhood

      I also don’t think this project will work out, but hey, if you invested the money or decided to be one of the companies involved, you knew you were taking a risk going in. Some people are dropping large money thinking they’re going to win the Powerball tonight. Same thing even though everyone should understand they have no chance at winning the jackpot.

      And it’s Lafayette Square Mall. If it fails, all that happens is the inevitable redevelopment of the parcel was delayed.

    2. Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t tapped in to this story a year ago (and hadn’t yet fully resolved issues with my new account), but I’m glad to know they had these concerns. While I understand the need for impartiality in reporting on business matters, at some point the BS sniffers should get activated, at which point in time it becomes investigative reporting. That may be more a job of Indy Star than IBJ, but then IBJ can at least cover Indy Star’s investigation.

      If the project remains on hold up to March/April AND the paint has deteriorated significantly, it stands to reason that this was a scam. It’s already illogical to emphasize paint at an early stage in redevelopment…unless the goal is of course a lip-gloss PR move. And if the paint looks crummy after the cold weather, it goes without saying that Sojas Capital chose the brightest colors at the lowest cost to convince the easily dazzled.

    3. The website was copyrighted in 2022, powered by Godaddy LOL. The Window link opened and it is literally a page of made up photos and videos. Sojos has no presence on LinkedIn other than a handful of people claim recent short term jobs there. Their resumes are weak and that is being generous. 2 of them both claim to be the Controller. The only real link is Susan Decker, who doesn’t claim sojos, and runs her own PR firm
      The only active link on the site is for a cooking school that took place in March 2022. How did that go IBJ? Past articles have a long list of major projects to be completed in 2022. IBJ?
      The key to the whole thing is a line buried in a different article. The property is in a “Federal Opportunity Zone”.
      The above info was obtained online in 10 minutes. A real info source would be digging into the “zone” because that is what this scam is aiming for, but IBJ is too busy running their 37th article about Food Deserts! Which oddly only occur in major urban areas.

    4. This is the real deal. I know the developer. He spoke about his progress at a recent IBJ meeting.

  2. I visited the mall right before its shutdown and I gotta say the interior did have some notable improvements and the front parking lot facing Lafayette Road looked better than it has in 30 years.

    Its still a very ambitious project, and I’m hoping for the best.

  3. I thought the Lafayette Square area would be a perfect fit for the professional soccer stadium even before the renovation of the Mall. If this renovation project is completed, the fit would-be even better.

    Room to build where businesses have closed

    Easy access from interstates

    Would give the area a real economic draw and boost

    International flair fits with the international vibe of soccer.

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