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.
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.