‘I was definitely shocked:’ Circle Center Mall under new management

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INDIANAPOLIS — After 26 years, Circle Centre Mall is under new management. Indianapolis-based Simon will retain leasing and partial ownership, but management will be handled separately starting in April. 

Tenants had not received a notice of any kind alerting them to this switch and have yet to hear directly from the new management group, Chicago-based JLL.

“A lot of people are shocked about it… and, you know they’re just like, what’s gonna happen with Circle Centre? What’s gonna happen with Indy?” said General Manager of Circle Centre’s Oakley Store Amber Craig. “I was definitely shocked cause, you know, Simon’s always been the mall management at this location, since it opened, and they’ve always been great.”

It’s been a rough few years for Circle Centre Mall. Challenges dating back to 2011, when anchor stores like Nordstrom began leaving. Empty store front exacerbated by the pandemic and riots.

“When customers come in, they’re really just in shock. Because we’ve had a lot of closures in the mall, the mall is – lowest capacity we’ve ever had,” Craig said. “It’s been a struggle… to bounce back from all of it for sure.”

Lifelong Indianapolis resident Craig remembers some of the mall’s best moments. She hopes a shakeup in management can revitalize the shopping center.

“I remember just… all the stores were full. It was booming. We had traffic. We had people,” Craig said. “I’m excited to see what they’re gonna do. I’m, fresh blood is always good because you always get fresh perspectives on things so I’m really excited and I hope they do some really great things to turn Circle Centre around.”

Some of those “really great things” will likely include venues beyond traditional retail, Indiana University Director for the Center of Education and Research in Retail John Talbott says.

“So, if you think about this mall. Circle Centre. I don’t think that it’s gonna make it just by simply opening more retail doors. What they need is apartments. They need a business. They need other alternative use cases… and JLL is honestly an expert at that,” Talbott said. “I think this is a nice way to bring in some additional bandwidth to help get the mall back in the place where the city and certainly Simon would like it to be.”

Talbott says the effort of injecting new life into a mall can use all the help it can get. 

“I don’t know that anybody that was just a pure shopping center developer would’ve said, ‘Hey put me in, that’s a great place! That is the number one place to put a mall! Let’s be sure to build one there!’ I don’t know that it was ever ideal, from a shopping center perspective,” Talbott said. “It’s one of those, if you build it, will they come? And they did for a while… and I think they will again.”

Tenants like Craig are excited at the possibilities new management symbolize. They hope JLL will do what Simon could not. Bring Circle Centre Mall back front and center. 

“A lot of people want to see it turn round. I would love to see it turn around, I mean I was born and raised in Indianapolis, you know I love downtown Indy and I would love for us to bounce back from this,” Craig said. “It would be really nice to see them come in and like, bring it back to life. That would be amazing.”

Regal is scheduled to reopen its Circle Centre location on May 14 and Punchbowl Social hopes to open its doors once again right behind them. 

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