INDIANAPOLIS — Lafayette Square Mall is closing later this summer, but only for a short time, to speed up the major renovations already in progress. Current tenants have to decide if they can survive for about three months with the doors to their stores closed.
Along with Monday's mall walkers, men on forklifts scooted past storefronts. Lafayette Square Mall is being transformed into Window to the World, a mixed-use destination neighborhood with an international flavor. The $20 million renovation to the mall is well underway, but owner Sojos Capital needs the project to move faster.
The major renovations are just taking too long and costing too much with customers and businesses, honestly, in the way. So, the plan is to close the mall from Aug. 29 until Nov. 21.
“Not remaining open for business during a short-term renovation allows us to address all construction issues as quickly as possible, while guaranteeing the safety of our tenants, employees and visitors,” said Fabio de la Cruz, principal of Sojos Capital. “We have extensive plans to transform the entire neighborhood, and opening Window to the World is the first step in creating a welcoming space for everyone to live, work, play and stay.”
Sam Chhabra has run his business, Universal Audio and Cell Phones, in the mall for 16 years, but he's planning to relocate before the three-month closure.
"I'm wishing everyone well for those big plans," Chhabra said. "The amount of money they're pouring in and all the changes coming in, hopefully, it will be fruitful after those hardship of three months."
"My customers, maybe they will run away," worries Waleed Abdelshafy, the co-owner the urban clothing store, NYC Style. "They are not coming back."
Abdelshafy is staying at his current mall location, believing in better business to come.
"After this closing, what they said, it's going to boom," Abdelshafy said. "The whole mall is going to look different — totally different. So, we are hoping this is going to help the business a lot, but the three months is really bad for us."
Sojos Capital is supporting tenants who plan to stay with:
- Six months of free rent (September 2022 - February 2023)
- Partnership with Indiana Gifts and Indiana Owned to provide online selling and other opportunities
- Free installation of new, energy-efficient LED lighting
- Infrastructure and installation of affordable high-speed, fiber internet
- Professional and business development assistance (business training classes and more)
- Design expertise to help tenants reimagine and economically renovate their own spaces
- Branding, marketing, and public relations expertise to support business growth
- Continued safety enhancements
Participation in grand opening activations and events
"I trust them because of what I see," Abdelshafy said. "They spend a lot of money on this project and I think it's going to be something different than the whole city."
Workers have already completed several upgrades and improvements including replacing the roof; changing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units, painting the interior and exterior and adding security enhancements.
The three-month closure will allow workers to access all areas to complete the roof, HVAC installation, exterior and interior painting, and new skylight installation. The mall will also undergo extensive electrical work and new flooring will be installed.
The mall will have a soft reopening just before Thanksgiving for holiday shopping. The grand opening of Window to the World is scheduled for April.