Feb 1, 2024 - News

New Lafayette Square Mall redevelopment plan is a big swing after several misses

Concept art of The Square

Concept art of The Square. Rendering: Sojos Capital

As an ambitious plan to revitalize Lafayette Square Mall undergoes its latest evolution, a mix of excitement and skepticism is growing alongside its price tag.

Why it matters: For more than two years, local real estate and development firm Sojos Capital has been sharing plans to revamp the mall and breathe new life into the surrounding northwest side neighborhood.

Driving the news: Last week, Sojos Capital released an updated master plan for "The Square," with an estimated cost of $700 million to $1 billion — a far cry from the initial $200 million renovation project dubbed "Window to the World."

  • Sojos Capital principal Fabio de la Cruz tells Axios they shared the latest plans to be transparent about the project revisions.
  • He said going bigger was the only way to make the intended impact of driving much-needed attention and talent to the area.

What they're saying: "On top of plans to be the landmark of Indianapolis, we want to change the perception outside of the state. You cannot do that by thinking small," he said.

Zoom in: Most of Lafayette Square Mall will be demolished to accommodate The Square's expanded footprint at West 38th Street and Lafayette Road.

  • New buildings and roads will be constructed along with outdoor spaces for events and community gatherings.
  • An art installation will be added to the main entrance as an homage to the mall's original, six-pillar design.
  • The portion of the mall left standing will be redeveloped to house a food hall, retailers, an entertainment venue and a corridor for local art.
  • The plan also calls for the construction of more than 370 hotel rooms across two buildings, more than 1,200 apartment units, a 200,000-square-foot sports facility, 533,000 square feet of office space and a 100,000-square-foot film studio.

Flashback: The original Window to the World concept was unveiled in November 2021 with phase one to be completed a year later, but de la Cruz said ballooning construction costs and numerous delays forced him to go back to the drawing board last summer.

Between the lines: On The Square's Facebook page, some community members responded with hope and optimism, while others shared palpable "too good to be true" energy, noting the years of fits and starts.

The other side: De la Cruz says critics who contend nothing has happened are overlooking developments like the completion of the new IMPD Northwest District HQ, upgrades to existing properties, the repurposing of a grocery store into a community center and Indiana's first Alamo Drafthouse Cinema set to open in later this year.

  • So far, Sojos Capital has invested more than $150 million into the area, according to de la Cruz.

What's next: De la Cruz said he is seeking financial support from the city of Indianapolis, but city officials tell Axios that no incentives are currently committed to the project.

  • De la Cruz said the goal is to start construction of phase one by the end of the year, and to open the reimagined mall by the end of 2025.
  • Tentative deals are in place with a number of groups to participate in the development, including Indy Pavilion Events Group, which is slated to move its headquarters there and run an entertainment venue.
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