Sears at Castleton closes: no longer a crisis; merely an opportunity.

My lasted post just went up at Urban Indy.  It focuses on the announced closure of the Sears at Castleton Square Mall, the largest mall in the Indianapolis metro, second largest mall in the state, and, together with all the outparcel space, probably the largest retail/commercial hub in the state.  This leaves only one Sears left in the entire Indianapolis metropolitan area.

It’s a disappointment, but not a big surprise.  Sears has been a disaster for the last 15 years, and I even blogged about its visible weakness at this same mall way back in 2009.  Even then, it was noticeable how the hallway in Castleton leading to Sears had weaker brand names and lower foot traffic.

Castleton Sears, soon to close.

Now, with the closure imminent, Simon Property Group (the owner of the mall) has announced a “transformational redevelopment” of the Sears site.  It’s the only hope of recovery; it’s not like there are any healthy department store chains left to fill the vacancy.  But what exactly is going to work?  We’re facing a condition where the careless overconstruction of retail space (malls, strip malls, big boxes, lifestyle centers, outlet malls, you name it) is forcing the entire country to confront a minor crisis in land use.  Online shopping is chipping away ruthlessly at the remaining viable bricks-and-mortar options.

Over at Urban Indy, I’ve contemplated what Simon should due to breathe new life into the space.  It does indeed need to be transformative.  In this day and age, a fountain and a few potted plants just ain’t gonna cut it.  I welcome feedback and other brainstorming, either here or at the Urban Indy link.

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7 thoughts on “Sears at Castleton closes: no longer a crisis; merely an opportunity.

  1. Astara

    Not surprising at all. I agree that Simon must be bold when planning a repurposed Castleton, since multiple lifestyle centers nearby. I’m curious to see what they decide to do.

    Reply
  2. Chris B

    To the extent that Simon now sees itself as a multi-purpose REIT rather than a mall-owner, there is probably hope that they will settle into an iterative process for mall redevelopment.

    Many malls are still well-located in the favored quarter of a metro. Castleton’s big issue is that there is an upmarket mall with Nordstrom and Saks just 2.5 miles west…so the top end is limited to Von Maur there. Office, apartment, dining, and entertainment uses seem most feasible, although I wouldn’t rule out Target returning to Castleton on the mall property.

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    1. AmericanDirt

      I think oversaturation is a critical reason that so many malls fail, and why a select few still seem to be succeeding. I haven’t been to Greenwood Park Mall in a few years, and it is no doubt feeling some of the same challenges as Castleton and others. But it has retained all its department stores, which I’d imagine at this point puts it in the top quintile among malls. It also has considerably greater geographic distance between it and the other malls in the metro. As recently as five years ago, it was fairly obvious that the parking lot filled up on the weekends with folks from rural southern Indiana for a family afternoon.

      Reply
  3. Angela E.

    That place is a ghost town. Every time I room up there to go to a site it is closed (both when I needed to run to “fossil” and there used to be a big show store called “off Broadway”).

    Reply
    1. AmericanDirt

      Sounds like you’re talking about the entire mall and not just the Sears? I think this is probably typical these days and Castleton is still probably performing above average. It’s just that “average” is so much worse than it used to be.

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    2. Angela E.

      Yes, the mall in general. For the last few years that Sears has also felt like a ghost town. Not much stock. Sparse displays. Mostly open spaces. Didn’t even feel like a store when you walked through.

      There are a lot of unoccupied storefronts in the mall in the last year. I don’t know about overall performance, however.

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