As retailers leave, city leaders consider Circle Centre Mall’s future

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 29, 2016) — Circle Centre Mall is losing half a dozen of its retailers and it has city leaders wondering what to do about the future of the downtown staple.

City-county councillor Jeff Miller, whose district covers the downtown area, told CBS4 that since Nordstrom pulled out of the mall in 2011, it has been an ongoing concern for him.

“I don’t know what the direction is going to be,” Miller said.

While the mall has remained a busy hotspot for convention visitors, there has been significant turnover recently. In the past month, Abercrombie and Fitch, Johnny Rockets, Gap, and Yankee Candle have shut down. American Greetings and Johnston & Murphy will soon follow.

On Friday, mall operator Simon also announced that California Pizza Kitchen will close, to be replaced by popular Pittsburgh chain Primanti Brothers.

“We’re clearly at a critical juncture where we have to decide what is the identity of the mall? Is it still a mall, do you want it to be a mall?” Miller said.

Purdue University Professor of Consumer Sciences and Retailing Richard Feinberg said once retailers start leaving, a mall can quickly start into a downward spiral. He worried about the future of Circle Centre and said it is no surprise that Simon is considering a possible $20 million renovation that could include apartments or condominiums.

“That mall is important to tourism. That mall is important to tax dollars. That mall is important to the people who work and live in the downtown Indianapolis area,” Feinberg said.

The mall property is owned by the city of Indianapolis and leased and operated by Simon. The company would not provide a statement or interview to CBS4 about the retailer closures.

In its most recent report to the city, Simon leaders cited an 89% occupancy rate in 2014 and said “leasing continues to be the primary focus of Circle Centre” but that the mall “continues to be a focal point in downtown Indianapolis.”

Keeping the mall as a focal point is why Miller said he hopes the city will start looking into its future.

“We need to sit down and say this is what we want out of it and this is how we’re going to get there and then all work together to support that,” Miller said.

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