INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis-based Sojos Capital announced plans to turn the Lafayette Square Mall and several surrounding properties into a vibrant new neighborhood called “Window to the World.”
An initial $200 million investment will renovate the main mall property into a mixed-use campus anchored around housing, entertainment, retail and dining. The plan would include:
- Transformation of the current mall interior into year-round indoor “streets” that recreate outdoor scenes from around the world
- Ground-up construction of approximately 200 multi-family rental units
- Renovation of a former anchor store into a boutique hotel
- Renovation of a former anchor store into innovative office space
- Renovation of a former anchor store into a multi-functional event space
- Renovation and leasing of outparcel buildings, such as veterinarian/pet boarding, bicycle sales and rentals, and coffee shop
- Construction of a new public trail and public park
- Infrastructure and street improvements
In addition, projects on several surrounding properties would include indoor and outdoor sports and training complexes, a charter school, a concert center and more:
- Fabio Sports, featuring indoor soccer, paddleball courts, sports academy and a dance studio (renovations expected to be completed by end of 2021)
- International Concert Center (renovations expected to be completed in 2022)
- Trampoline park (renovations expected to be completed in 2022-2023)
- Ground-up construction of the new IMPD Northwest District Headquarters (expected to be completed February 2022)
- Exterior improvements at 4090 Lafayette Road (expected to be completed in 2022)
- Exterior improvements at 3717 Lafayette Road and 4343 W. 38th Street (expected to be completed in 2022)
- Exterior improvements at 3540 Commercial Drive (expected to be completed in 2022)
- New soccer fields at 5101-5111 W. 38th Street (expected to be completed in 2022)
- Ground-up construction of soccer facility at 5101-5111 W. 38th Street (completion date to be determined)
- Ground-up construction of Monarca Academy at 5101-5111 W. 38th Street (expected to be completed in 2023)
- Renovation and reopening of movie theater at 3898 Lafayette Road (expected to be completed in 2022)
Sojos Capital Principal Fabio De La Cruz said the goal of the project is to turn away from the model of the traditional shopping mall and create something more like a new neighborhood.
“I personally love the neighborhood, love everything about it,” De La Cruz said. “And I think the uniqueness of it will make an attractive place for everybody in the city to come.”
Lafayette Square Mall has been on the decline for many years. While there are still some tenants in the mall, the building and parking lot are mostly empty. Nearby residents said they were excited to hear about the plan to bring new life to the area.
“I’ve seen this area declining,” said Elizabeth Booker. “I’m hoping that it makes it somewhere that people want to visit and not just hurry up and drive through.”
“It’ll bring a lot of people to the community, and it’ll bring a lot of jobs and opportunities,” said Felicia Jefferson. “More stuff to do, more stuff to see, more stuff to be able to do with your kids, your community, your family.”
Matthew Will, associate finance professor at the University of Indianapolis, said the plan shows promise because it recognizes previous failed attempts to save the mall.
“It’s not just shopping, it’s education, it’s entertainment, it’s sports, it’s housing,” Will said.
Will added that the project plan appears to mix two key ingredients for success.
“Do you have the population to serve, and do you have the amenities that the population wants?” he said. “And I think this particular program merges both of those perfectly and think it has a very optimistic chance of success.”
A statement from Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development Director Scarlett Andrews also expressed optimism about the project.
The Department of Metropolitan Development is looking forward to collaborating with Sojos Capital and the northwest side community on the revitalization of the Lafayette Square Mall area. The planned, substantial investments announced today represent an enormous opportunity to accelerate momentum and boost growth in the International Marketplace, a neighborhood vital for the overall equity and prosperity of Indianapolis.Scarlett Andrews
De La Cruz said Sojos Capital was still in talks with the city about possible tax incentives and improvements to several surrounding streets.
“Sojos Capital successfully raised and closed a qualified Opportunity Zone Fund, which is the source of capital for Window to the World,” a statement from Sojos Capital said. “After already investing $500,000 in due diligence studies and more than $6 million on capital improvements at the former Lafayette Square Mall, Sojos Capital projects an additional $200 million investment to transform into the new Window to the World.”
While many parts of the extended project are still in motion, De La Cruz said he hopes to have the main mall building renovated and open for business at the end of 2022.