What Could Happen With Lafayette Square Mall? A Lot, or Maybe Not?

Last week, news broke that the property containing Lafayette Square Mall was for sale. Most of the mall has been struggling or vacant for years. But I want to focus on the land. This is a huge chunk of land that is basically 100 percent hardscape.

Image Credit: Map Indy

How much land is this? I’ve overlaid the selected parcels onto the downtown imagery for perspective.

Image Credit: MapIndy

It stretches from the downtown Kroger at Michigan/Capitol all of the way to City Way at Virginia/Louisiana. This is a massive, massive property.

So, what can be done with it? First of all, Lafayette Square was built with the car in mind. However, there is bus service, and it could run every 15 minutes according to IndyGo’s future plans. For now, it’s a service for mostly transit dependent folks. And unsurprisingly, sidewalks are either spare or barren. And spotting a bicycle is about as frequent as spotting a tree. Turning this aircraft carrier of a property around will be a great challenge. I turn the floor to commenters for ideas on what can be done here.

Comments 23

  • I’m not particularly pro-sports subsidy, but I’d still like to see what happened if they put the soccer team in this spot.

    • I write a blog about the soccer team and have looked at their current development in the Lafayette Square mall location.

      There is so much space that I could have placed it anywhere on the site and it would fit, but placed it so that the roads mostly aligned. There’s still so land available around the development rendering, but I would expect that portion of what remains would be used for parking, much like the lot south of Lucas Oil Stadium. As Kevin points out, LSM is highly dependent on car traffic so any stadium discussion there will include a big parking lot.

      • While I think it would be cool to see the Indy Eleven site here so that there is more likely development and use, I believe they have said they either want to be close to downtown or Broad Ripple. I think they wanted this for the amenities of shopping, dining, bars and other that those areas offer and that have already been successfully established in those areas.

        While I know there is a lot of restaurants and other opportunities in the LSM area for fans to frequent, I think the stigma of what LSM and the area have been in more recent years in regards to crime and other perception wise would scare some fans from doing anything other than attending the game. I would like to think I’m wrong as I think something like that could really infuse some much needed money and growth in that area and know it isn’t as bad as sometimes publicized.

    • Interesting idea, really. Soccer is a wildly popular international sport, so the International Marketplace district actually makes sense. It could also benefit the people who have invested their livelihoods in a challenging neighborhood. They should look into it. It’s not that far from downtown. Maybe it’s time to look outside the mile square.

  • Having watched the decline of Lafayette Square Mall and the rise of the nearby International District I ponder if the property could be turned into a “small town downtown”-esque area. Lots of mixed use properties, 3 or 4 story buildings with international restaurants, small international food grocery stories, and other businesses located on the first floors and apartments above. A small park and trail along that creek in the southeast corner. The park and creek would be a natural area to have some summer festivals.

    At this point LSM just needs to be razed and the land turned into a grassy field until people can figure out how to do better. They could do that with all the strip malls on the east side of Lafayette Rd from 38th St north towards I-65.

  • Mow the whole thing down and return it to nature. Plant trees and create hiking trails.

      • Disregard above post. Why would you come here to hike a featureless, treeless plain next to a highway when Eagle Creek is right down the street.

        • The best cities have parks everywhere, Paul. Indy is ranked what? Dead last when it comes to parks? Ft. Wayne might be worse. Hoosiers don’t see value in such things. People elsewhere do. Maybe that’s your problem. I mean, there are lots of huge tracts of land waiting to be developed in Indy. It’s not like you’re going to run out, and even if you let companies kill off their workers blame free, it’s not like the world is beating a path to your door.

  • I would say turn it into something like a Edinburgh outdoor strip mall shops type even the one like noblesville premium shops with the nice brick with a large fountain, splash pads, outside benches etc. and a nice new name for it as well maybe the shops at Lafayette town center now that’s just for a start from an expert such as my self, right Duhhh….

  • I like Brian’s idea.

  • The scale and population-proximally distributed nature of these former retail properties should be utilized strategically for our City’s continued growth. Perhaps as transit centers in a multiple spoke and hub configuration. Lafayette Square, Washington Square, Castleton Square, Greenwood Park, and the airport could all be connected to Union Station or the Transit Center. Initially utilize buses, but there’s actually standard gauge rail or rail right-of-way’s adjacent to each of these properties already. These rails could eventually be developed privately through negotiated licensing and franchise fees, supporting a rail transit system with less burden upon the taxpayer. Increased use of the properties might allow for mixed-use redevelopment of the large auto-devoted parking areas with market forces.

     “It isn’t the distance from the center of a town that counts,” said Eugene; “it’s the time it takes to get there. This town’s already spreading; bicycles and trolleys have been doing their share, but the automobile is going to carry city streets clear out to the county line.” – Booth Tarkington 1918

  • The best thing would be to knock down the buildings which are a major impediment to development. I’d be in favor of government doing that. I am, however, very skeptical of government picking winners and losers in terms of economic development of the area. The private sector is better at that than government.

  • With the size of this property I would think you would almost break this up into several lots for sale and development. I do agree it probably needs torn down first as that might help people visualize what could go in there as a fresh slate. I’m probably naive here, but would love to see a combination of several ideas listed above by other posters. Again I know this is a bit of a pipe dream here but what I would love to see:

    1) I think with all that space and important roads that it connects to there should definitely be some sort of mini “transit hub.” Could be a great jumping off point for Speedway too.

    2) Soccer Stadium for Indy Eleven — if combined with transit hub it would provide for less wasted ground parking need and increase ridership on mass transit especially Red Line from Broad Ripple or Downtown. Again this would still leave so much space for development as seen in Drew’s image.

    3) This would be a longshot and probably not a popular or smart use of the space, but some sort of theme park like a Kings’ Island. Again a destination that regardless of where people live would be willing to come into the area to reinsert money into the community. Again combined with transit center would help with some of the need for parking being less.

    4) I do like reclaiming some of the land as a sort of pocket park. Yes, Eagle Creek is nearby, but that costs money to get in that some living in this community may not be able or want to afford.

    Reality is that to truly benefit the community it will probably be slowly developed as destinations like I mentioned above only benefit the community on certain days or months when the weather is good or there are games going on. what’s built should hopefully benefit year round. I think the area could really rebrand the area with LSM gone in a positive way.

    • An amusement park will not work, as this area is too central-urban. A soccer stadium will not work, as this area is too ghetto. Restaurants here are a bad idea, as the food will probably be cockroach and mouse infested. A Dollar General or Wal-Mart is a bad idea, as the parking lot will be littered with about 5,000 cigarette butts, and not a single person will complain about it. Another mall will not work, as malls are dead. The only option would be for the U.S. military to drop a nuclear bomb on the area, let about 200 years pass, then plant some roses. This would be better than what is there or what will likely go there, an apartment community where gun violence, meth use, prostitution, and crime will be so rampant it will take the city 30 years to realize it was all a bad idea, then bulldoze it all, and build the same thing there again!

  • Raise the buildings. And put on the market. This spot is about 20 years away from any meaningful redevelopment. You would probably get dollar general and fast food if you sold it in smaller parcels….which I’m fine with. Not everywhere can be a mixed use vibrant community. Buildings with some use would be much better than vacant buildings

  • I think a destination property is the best for this large parcel considering its excellent access (interstate and bus). The soccer stadium would work but also could be large scale entertainment like an amusement park (what about indoor water park or year round indoor skiing). A regional draw retail (like but not Ikea since it is already in Fishers) would be great as well and would do a lot to revitalize the area.

    • Wow, how misled you have let yourself come to be. Neither of those options are viable here. The only thing that works is the size of the lot.

  • Will end up an Amazon distro center. Its really the only use at this point

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