Apr 30, 2024 - News

Circle Centre Mall adds tenants amid change

Rick Baretto in the arcade

Rick Barretto is ready to change the game at Circle Centre Mall. Photo: Courtesy of Holsapple Communications

Circle Centre Mall's newest tenants are blending workforce development with Donkey Kong.

Why it matters: Circle Centre welcomes Hope Training Academy and Video Game Palooza Charity Arcade to the third and fourth floors at a time of significant change for the downtown mall.

  • Hendricks Commercial Properties, the Wisconsin-based developer behind Bottleworks, completed its purchase of the mall last week and will move forward with a $600 million plan to redevelop it.
  • These two businesses offer a glimpse at what's next for Circle Centre as Hendricks aims to turn the mall into a mixed-use space for housing, offices, entertainment and retail.

Driving the news: Hope Training Academy, a nonprofit that prepares students for tech-focused careers with training in information technology, networking, cybersecurity and game development, is moving into the space formerly occupied by Purdue Polytechnic High School in Circle Centre.

  • It will feature classrooms, an esports arena and a hands-on technology lab.
  • Classes are currently offered online and at Indiana Wesleyan University's northside campus.

The intrigue: Hope Training Academy founders Rick and Cara Barretto also recently opened Video Game Palooza on Level 3 of the mall.

  • All proceeds from the arcade are used to fund scholarships for Hope students.
  • Hope students can also work on the technical components of the games at a lab established in the arcade.

What they're saying: "I'm excited because now, this is a bigger platform," Rick Barretto told Axios. "Our mission is to help students. I don't care what your age is or what your background is. When students come in with a desire to learn or family to support, we just want to help them figure out what they love to do."

Zoom in: Rick Barretto is a tech entrepreneur and inductee into the International Video Game Hall of Fame. Cara Barretto is a long-time educator.

  • Before moving into the mall, the Barrettos would take their game collection to events like Comic-Con and Gen Con and set up charity arcades.
  • The permanent location features 60-70 classic arcade machines and vintage gaming consoles.

The vibe: Unlike the more ticket- and prize-focused games of Tilt Studio on the top floor of the mall, Video Game Palooza features classics where gameplay is the ultimate reward.

  • Rick Barretto said the games on display are pulled from his personal collection of more than 300.
  • Along with cabinets for games like Mario Bros., Q*bert and Tekken, Barretto included custom cabinets that feature a variety of titles.

💭 My thought bubble: As someone who spent his formative years hanging out at mall arcades in the '90s, Video Game Palooza feels closer to that energy than any of the arcades I've been to here.

  • The machines are well taken care of, and it's the first place outside of the legendary Galloping Ghost Arcade where I've come across a working "Primal Rage" machine.

If you go: Video Game Palooza is open daily from 11am-7pm.

  • Visitors can pay $10 for an hour or buy a day pass for $20.

What next: Hope classes at the mall space should start in about a month.

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