Lafayette Square Mall; Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Opened in 1968 at a busy intersection a few miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis, Lafayette Square Mall was the first major enclosed mall in the metropolitan area.  Although other large outdoor shopping centers existed since the 50s such as Glendale Center, Lafayette Square was the first in a trend of enclosed shopping centers which would be constructed around the area in the 1960s and 1970s.  

When it opened, Lafayette Square was a bit smaller than it is today and contained only two anchor stores on each end, JCPenney on the south end and Sears on the north end, with a mall corridor and stores in between them.  This basic dumbell design was complemented in 1969 with a William H. Block store in the center of the mall, and in 1974 with an additional smaller wing near Sears which added Ohio-based Lazarus and eight new stores.  Then in 1975, another addition came at the expense of grocer Kroger to add anchor L.S. Ayres near the south end of the mall.  All of these expansions were due, in part, to competition in the form of newer enclosed malls opening in other parts of the city.  Castleton Square, Washington Square, and Greenwood Park Malls opened in the early to mid-1970s, respectively; and each was a large regional center located in the north, east, and south parts of the city, respectively.

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, IndianaLafayette Square Mall’s location was essential in the dynamic of its success, even as competition emerged in other parts of the city stealing customers away.  Being the closest mall to downtown Indianapolis and the neighborhoods surrounding the core of the city allowed the mall to retain those shoppers who didn’t want to go out the far periphery of town where the other malls had opened.  In addition, Lafayette Square retained much of the west metro shoppers as well who never got a mall of their own due to Lafayette Square’s presence. 

Continuing through the 1980s proved mostly status quo as Indianapolis was balanced with large malls in each cardinal direction of the city.  However, a balance shifted in favor of the other malls during the 1990s as both areas around the core of downtown Indianapolis experienced economic troubles at the same time areas of far-north Indianapolis experienced extreme growth and prosperity.  In fact, during this period the retail trade area along 86th Street around and between Castleton Square and Fashion Mall became the prime trade area for the whole metropolitan area.  During the 1980s and 1990s, the growth of tony suburbs like Carmel and Fishers added to this, because they were even farther north than the northern malls. 

 Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

An even heavier blow came to Lafayette Square Mall in 1995, when downtown Indianapolis embarked on a rather successful urban redevelopment initiative and opened a large two-level mall downtown called Circle Center, featuring upscale anchors Nordstrom and Parisian.  Being that Lafayette Square is the closest mall to downtown Indianapolis and many of its patrons came from the central parts of the city, having Circle Center right there and so much newer and nicer, in addition to the newer sports and entertainment venues which opened around the same time.  As downtown Indianapolis cleaned up its image, Lafayette Square started the fight for its life.

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, IndianaSo, in 1996, as a response to Circle Center’s opening, Lafayette Square embarked on a major renovation project, the only major facelift it received in its almost 40-year span.  A new food court was constructed, and the mall generally looked nice again on the inside.  This, however, didn’t woo shoppers as planned, and the mall fell several tiers in spite of the renovations.  Many urban wear stores, local discounters, and the like appeared around this time and anchor woes came as well.

All of the anchors at Lafayette Square have changed hands at one point or closed completely, except for Sears at the north end which is an original anchor from 1968.  The middle anchor, Block’s, became Lazarus in the late 1970s after Block’s and Lazarus merged.  The Lazarus store closed in 2002, before all the other Lazarus stores became Macy’s; today, it is being used for a church.  The empty Lazarus store near Sears became Montgomery Ward, until it closed in 1996 and became Burlington Coat Factory, which it is today.  The L.S. Ayres anchor near the south end, which opened in a 1975 expansion, remains open today as Macy’s which it was rebranded in 2006.  Finally, the southern anchor JCPenney remained until 2004, when it jumped ship to a newer “Lifestyle Center” development called Metropolis Mall further west in Plainfield, a growing suburb. 

 Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Today, Lafayette Square continues as a third or even fourth-tier center, catering to a lower-income population and suffering from a significant vacancy rate.  Though surprisingly, it has continued on this path for several years and a downward spiral isn’t as apparent as at some beleagured malls, and many predicted the mall’s closure a few years ago.  It appears that perhaps Lafayette Square can skate along this way and may have found a niche in this fashion.  If it can keep Sears and Macy’s it may do just that, otherwise it could fall down and go the way of the dinosaur. 

The pictures here were taken in Spring 2001; newer ones exist, and when we get around to it we’ll upload them.  However, the mall hasn’t changed that significantly other than anchor issues.  Feel free to post your own comments, observations and experiences about Lafayette Square.

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana 

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana

UPDATE 12/6/07:

Jay (ftn65) has sent us some vintage photos of Lafayette Square.  Judging by the movies listed, I’d say the photos were taken in 1994.

UPDATE 6/10/08: Blog reader Patron Zero has contributed a scan of a vintage Lafayette Square mall directory.  I’m not sure exactly when the directory is from, but I’m guessing late 70s.  When I was trying to discern the date, I looked at the Wikipedia article which states that Lazarus moved from its original location here to take over the Block’s store sometime during the late 1970s, and Wards took the old Lazarus location.  Anyone know?  Anyway, thanks for the submission!

laf_sq_plan_02.jpg laf_sq_plan_01.jpg

67 Responses to “Lafayette Square Mall; Indianapolis, Indiana”

  1. Cool. Did Kroger have an interior entrance, out of curiosity?

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  2. In a 1960s era mall, I’d assume that yes, Kroger would’ve had an interior entry.

    By the way, there’re a couple junior anchors not mentioned. The big blank space in the food court is now Steve & Barry’s; this was previously G. C. Murphy and later Waccamaw Pottery.

    There’s also a Kittles Rooms Express across from L.S. Ayres/Macy’s, in what used to be a Hook’s Drugs.

    The Old Navy (formerly a theater) is now Max $10, a chain whose stores I’ve seen a lot of, but I can’t find a lick of information on them.

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  3. It’s not a complete abomination; the design of the main entrance is one of the best I’ve seen.

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  4. I have never seen such a big Simon logo. Usually it is just on the entrance doors and flags in the parking lot. I also never saw a Things Remembered kiosk before, but have seen Sunglasses Hut kiosks. It reminds me that I did see a Brookstone kiosk in a picture of some mall, but I cant remember what mall it was. And it looks like the food court has a racing car theme …interesting. That is a very nice looking entrance, I wonder if it still looks that good since these pictures are from 2001.

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  5. It will take more than that 1996 renovation to save it in the long haul IMO. It looks pretty drab on the inside…like a 70′s mall with 90′s floor tiles, and it definitely has all the tell tale signs of a bling bling mall. The part where you mentioned the renovation did not keep it from going urban downscale is exactly what happened at Cumberland. They did a renovation there that pales this mall, knocked down anchors, renovated another, built a lifestyle wing and the mall still has mom and pop urban stores replacing national chains right and left. The outside entrance…nice. The JCPenney anchor has brutalist retro charm. Overall, though, I’d say it is no big loss if they just knock it down…funny how drab malls like this outlast the cool ones like Bannister and Blue Ridge in KC.

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  6. Max10 is a small chain of “outlet” clothing stores around Michigan/Indiana, mostly in fairly low-rent areas. They are owned by Bermo Enterprises, which has their headquarters/warehouse in Schoolcraft, MI, on US-131 on the way to Kalamazoo. Their website is here: http://www.bermoenterprises.com

    Well, this mall looks OK, seems to have a fair amount of tenants, and some are surprising for a place like this (Cinabon, Children’s Place).

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  7. It’s funny that even though I live 10 minutes away from Lafayette Square, I haven’t shopped there seriously since I was in high school on the west side, almost 10 years ago. Which is too bad, because as a child, I went fairly often with my parents, to the General Cinemas (screens 1-3 inside the mall, screens 4-6 on a outlot) and to my favorite thing, a Flintstones phone where you could talk to Fred. Imagine my horror when we found out that they took the phone out! Other than that, the most distinctive feature of Lafayette Square was ‘the vaccuum cleaners’, the very noticeable columns at the main entrance. When they did the remodel and removed those, it just wasn’t the same.

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  8. By the mid 60s, malls were starting to have unconnected super markets, esp. if there was a “convenience wing”.

    This place had no personality in the late 80s when it was perking along. It also never grew the magnitude of “hinterland” of big boxes that other malls in the area did. Car dealers seemed to gravitate there, to. Nearby is Eagledale, a smaller, earlier plaza that had one of the first branch dept stores in Inddy, as Wasson’s. The west side, generally is more blue collar than the North or even parts of the East Side and this mall is not well located to attract people from the smaller cities like Lafayette, etc.–it’s just as easy for people coming from those places to go to Castleton. Greenwood is able to overcome the lackluster economics of being on the south side by attracting people from Bloomington, Franklin et al. Plus the “urban” aspect is likely to be particularly off putting to small town folks in this region. Many of the towns of significant size within an hour or so of Indy were “sundown towns” (you couldn’t live there or be there after dark if you weren’t white). Outside of the university, Bloomington had no Balck residents until large industrial employers came in during the 50s. That was pretty typical in many other towns in the region and, so being around African-American’s is significant and threatening novelty for a lot of them..

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  9. It’s nice to see Indianapolis getting some recognition. With Indianapolis being the headquarters for Simon, It seems that Indianapolis retail really gets passed over, even by Simon. After seeing the numerous malls in here, Indianapolis malls really seem to get the shaft, they are nothing special at all. And Lafayette Square is prime example. There isn’t anything that sets Lafayette Square apart from any other mall, making it a destination. Lafayette Square, or as many locals refer to it as “Lafayette Scare” has been on a downward trend since, it seems, the late 80s or early 90s; the beginning of the retail boom on the North side, and the results of several shootings and high profile crimes at the mall. Even the East and South sides really got ignored, as everyone went to Castleton and The Fashion Mall. Now, Greenwood got lucky with it being the only major mall between Bloomington and Downtown, so with some renovations, Greenwood has really taken off; but Lafayette on the West side and Washington Square on the East side haven’t had such luck, with Lafayette getting the worst of it, being on the hardest side of town. Not much hope is in it for Lafayette, which is a shame, but there just isn’t a market for a major mall on that side of town. Most would rather go Downtown to Circle Centre or North to Castleton. It would be nice, however, if Simon would up the ante and make struggling malls like Lafayette and Washington Square special destinations for people to enjoy going to. Simon really needs to learn how to make their hometown something of a showcase, something to be proud of; instead of having all their hometown malls an embarrassment compared to some of their other malls.

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  10. With a General Cinema and looking at those parking lot lights, this had to be DeBartolo Mall originally, right?

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  11. Why, I’m pleasantly surprised at the Specialty Food stores here: Orange Julius (not a Dairy Queen Orange Julius, though there is DQ in the mall), Cinnabon, and Tropik Sun Fruit & Nut (we used to have one in Texas). The mall may not be the top retail destination, but it does sound like a place to get a tasty snack. No soft pretzels, though. Bummer.

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  12. i have heard many bad things about this mall but have never found it as bad as its reputation the curch dose need to go away and so dose the empty pennys store but as long as macys and sears with burlington stay the mall should be able to stay open. here is a idea for simon thay shoud move burlington to the old pemmeys tare down the curent burlington and re build the food court then get maby a book store or sporting good store to fill the church space. i also wood like to know dose the church bring in shoppers on sundays or dose it just use up parking spaces

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  13. I sure gotta wonder what that ‘Fat Predator’ kiosk must sell. LMAO!

    Seriously though, it’s too bad that Simon doesn’t do more to renovate the interior of this mall, which doesn’t seem too bad to me, other than the ‘faux’ industrial warehouse-like ceiling of this mall, which I can overlook for other decent aspects I’ve noticed of this mall. At least the exterior walls, and individual entrances into this mall aren’t bad. Plus, you can tell it was originally built with skylights at certain parts of the mall, too.

    Not surprisingly, I like the exterior of this mall’s former JCPenney building, and to a lesser degree(though not as good as certain Sears stores I’ve seen), I like the Sears building too. Finally, as for Kroger, I seriously suspect for sure it definitely had to have had an interior entrance, considering the fact that I’ve read that many malls from the ’60s and ’70s were built with grocery stores connected to them, such as Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL. Of course, I suspect that connecting a grocery store to a mall very likely stopped being a common trend among enclosed malls, once the first part of the major enclosed mall boom began in the ’80s.

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  14. The new photos don’t show up.

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  15. Dixie Square had a grocery store? Seriously? I knew it had two drug stores but a grocery store totally escaped me…

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  16. Yep, there was a Jewel attached to this mall. You can see by going to this page, and viewing the 1966 store directory halfway down the page: http://mallsofamerica.blogspot.com/2006/05/dixie-square-documentary-promo-1.html

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  17. Bye-Bye Macy’s!!! Macy just announced closing 9 stores. One in Indy, probably Lafayette. Rolling Acres and Randall Park are on the closed list too. Also one in Houston, one in Dallas, Lake Charles LA, Canton OH (probably Belden Village), one in Utah, and one in Oklahoma. It has begun!!

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  18. Oops, I should do my research. Washington Square is losing Macy’s, not Lafayette, which seems like a surprise to me. Macy’s is leaving Canton Centre in Canton OH, not Belden. Canton Centre was always a ugly dump and I’m surprised it is still open.

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  19. Ha ha to Wendy! I remember the “vacuum cleaner” entrance to Lafayette Square. We drove by Lafayette Square on the way to my grandmother’s place on the westside. Every time I imagined those giant vacuum cleaners sucking something up.

    And Washington Square on the east side is just as run down as this one.

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  20. Wow, I’m really surprised to see Macy’s is not closing the Lafayette Sq. location, and closing the Washington Sq. location. But still, I highly doubt that this is the last round of store closings Macy’s will have to undergo for its future survival, especially considering all their May Dept. Store-converted locations.

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  21. i wood think that glendale wood have gone before any of them.

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  22. Some recent news about Lafayette Square. The mall was sold near the end of 2007. The new owners announced last week (March 2008) that they are spending $12 Million on the mall. The old Lazarus location (former temporay church) will be an indoor recreation center with go carts, indoor golf, compute gaming center and other activities. The outlots along Lafayette Road are going to be redeveloped for more modern uses than the existing tire stores that occupy the former auto service centers of the old Blocks and JCP stores. They are committed to filling the JCP store with an anchor tenant. There are several department store chains in the region that do not have a presence in Indianapolis. Since the mall is an econmic development zone there are tax incentives to encourage companies to take a chance on the area. The Wal Mart store finally opened just north of the mall adn the long vacan Builders Square store ins now a new Garden Ridge store. THere are several new building going up on the Wal Mart site. The Lafayette Place strip center is not doing very well. Broadbent sold this center to Sandor Development last year. In the past few months Hobby Lobby and Office Depot have left this center and the Shoe Carnival store is moving next to the Wal Mart. I look for Sandor to redevelope this site. There was a sucessful K-Mart store there that closed as a result of the K-Mart bankruptcy a few years ago. They were in the process of expanding that store when K-Mart ran into trouble. The center is not very well layed out to allow for parking for a major store without redesigning the site plan. That was one big problem for the K-Mart since it was often impossible to find parking near the store. If anyone can make this work I believe that Sandor can pull it off. They did a great job at Eagledale Plaza a mile south of Lafayette Square. That center is now nearly full with new stores and existing stores have made a committment to the center. The Marsh grocery was just renovated and it is a nice store now.

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  23. Interesting to see that the same company that bought Eagledale Plaza(and considering the history of it that one person wrote above) also bought Lafayette Square from Simon. I wish them luck in redeveloping that mall, as it seems to me that if it had the right mix of tenants(and successfully attracted certain ones), that it’d could possibly reemerge as a successful mall again.

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  24. One funny thing to mention: every single mall I’ve come across that was built or owned by debartolo from the 70′s to the 80′s has those hideous parking lot lights. My mall (melbourne square) just replaced those same ones after a major renovation. On another note, Simon does seem to be good at filling space. When the almighty dollar speaks, they listen. When they have high vacancy rates, they call on their friends such as Burlington, local stores, and “bling’ stores. In their mind, with malls in the class of this one, that is what keeps some profitability in them. Its interesting that my mall just went through a renovation, and has an odd tenant mix now of some “bling” stores such as D.e.m.o and mom and pop stores throughout, yet has lots of newer higher end tenants such as Aldo, Sunglass Hut, chain Jewelry stores, popular teen stores, even a sunglass hut store and Starbuck’s added this year. I do however, think they get lazy about who they choose for their malls in general. Obviously, they saw a market for a mall a few teirs up from what it was. In the Indianapolis market, they may not want to risk a high dollar renovation again with negative returns. I think a lifestyle component, and retenanting may help net them more cash, especially if they look closely at the area for cues on proper store selections. perhaps an outlet project in line with what Mills has been doing, with a fun twist may be an option to look at

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  25. Bizarre. It actually seems like some of LSM’s stores (as of the Simon site, when this was posted). Anyway, I hope Lafayette Square can fix up the Lazarus to the entertainment center and hopefully it will walk that line between the “dead mall” and the “upscale mall”. Maybe it will be one of those malls that can juggle all the stores from downscale to a five-star mall. Maybe.

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  26. The largest ‘residents’ of the mall currently are two churches whom hold services in two separate former department stores. It’s unlikely that Lafayette Square will ever return to it’s glory days of the 1970s as a Wal-Mart Superstore has opened on the northern end of the property. Oh, to the best of my memory, the Kroger’s store did not have an interior entrance, there were two full service drug stores inside the mall (Hooks & Super-X) all the same.

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  27. Thanks for posting that, Patron_Zero. That clarifies what me(and I also believe Jonah) were trying to figure out about the Kroger that was built at LSM.

    I doubt this mall will ever become a top tier mall again like it was in the 1970s, but I think it’s possible that it could somewhat elevate itself from its current low-tier mall status.

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  28. With Eastgate Mall facing the bulldozers and Glendale Mall having been “raped” (in my opinion) into a shopping strip, Lafayette Square might not have many days left which is quite sad as having spent many memorable days of my childhood there. Side note: Greenwood Park Mall suffered a similar disfigurement after the L.S. Ayres store was leveled and a ‘modern’ shopping strip was grafted to the mall proper.

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  29. I actually have an original shopping directory-floor plan to Lafayette Square should a scan of said item be of interest. Mind this is not the grand opening arrangement of stores but I believe the mall’s last ‘full occupancy’ layout which likely corresponds to the photos posted with this entry.

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  30. Sure, we’d love a scanned directory if you get the chance. Send it to Ross.Schendel@gmail.com and we’ll post it up right away. Thanks!

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  31. Scanned and sent, check your mail.

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  32. Check out this postcard of Lafayette Square, perhaps when it first opened:

    http://flickr.com/photos/wilsonsmith/2536019825/sizes/l/in/set-72157604444962076/

    Would anyone happen to have any older directories or photos of Lafayette Square in its heyday? Thanks

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    Kathy Reply:

    @Naptown,

    Love the posted pic. That’s just how I remember the mall as a little girl. The new photo is how it looked after I’d married, but this is LSM to me!

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  33. Here’s another one, this one from the mid 1990s

    http://www.indy.org/library/2005Docs/Nov/7013314/SHP-101.jpg

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  34. Thanks for emailing and/or posting links on older pics/scans of this mall, Patron Zero and Naptown. I really enjoyed looking at those.

    This mall is definitely high on my list of places I wanna go to, the next time I spend a lotta time in Indianapolis. My interest in wanting to see this mall was especially renewed when I recently took a June Megabus trip to Indianapolis to meet up with someone in Indiana, and I passed by this mall along I-65.

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  35. The 1994 pictures do not show up in my browser, nor Firefox. Please fix them, because they don’t appear…:(

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  36. I grew up going to Lafayette Square (or as we always called it “Lafayette Scare”). I have very fond memories of that place. I remember there being a time where it was rough. Particularly in the parking lots. Lots of gang activity and car jackings. I also remember the little cinema that you had to go over a little bridge to get to. There use to be an independant Orange Julius, but the last time i was there, it was Orange Julius / Dairy Queen. I also liked Fannie May and eating at Murphey’s. My grandma was very fond of shopping there, and we miss her dearly. Lots of good memories. On a funny and surprising note….When I was a teenager, I accidently left my purse on a bench inside that mall. I thought it was gone forever. I recieved a phone call from one of the stores that someone had turned it in to lost-and-found. It was returned to me with nothing missing. Would not have expected that from there.

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  37. One more thing….I think its neat how there are walkers there every morning. The same walkers that have been walking there for 30 years.

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  38. In the recent local news several stories have been reported about investors sinking serious cash into revitalizing Lafayette Square as well as new stores to open in said mall. Having seen firsthand what happened with Glendale Mall’s last years on life support, it’s simply putting lipstick on a a razorback pig.

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  39. The thing going into the former Penney’s is a dumpy-sounding downscale dept. store called Shopper’s World. Keep fingers crossed.

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  40. I remember shopping at LSM in the late 60s. Kroger had an interior entrance, it was next to the flower shop and Parklane Hosery was on the corner. There was a Doctor’s Pet Center at the entrance, near J.C. Penneys. Next to the Doctor’s Pet Center was a barber shop, and next to that was a hot dog/snack/food place, I think the name was Carasel. There was a Super X Drug Store near the J.C. Penneys. In the middle of the mall there was a fountain and bridges where you could walk over the water. A lot of people threw pennies into the water below the bridges. They also had wires that went from the floor to the ceiling and at times water ran down the wires. There were a lot of potted plants and benches where people sat and enjoyed the mall. The Mall had a lot of sky lights so it was very bright in there, commercials invited people to come and shop at the mall, where the temperature was always 72 degrees. G.C Murphys was down by the Sears store. AFNB Bank was in the Main entrance way. The AFNB Bank had one of the first cash (ATM) machines put outside the main entrance way of that mall. There was a cafeteria across from the only theater in the mall. The mall had lockers at several places where you could go and put your coats. Also there were a lot of public phones all over the mall where you could make a phone call for 10 cents.

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  41. Sears plans to close Lafayette Square store
    Indianapolis Star
    Posted: October 17, 2008
    Contact Star reporter Jeff Swiatek at (317) 444-6483.

    Sears, Roebuck and Co. will close its long-time department store and auto center at Lafayette Square Mall about Jan. 11.

    The retail giant filed a “facility closure notice” Thursday with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development saying it will cease operations at the Lafayette Road location and permanently lay off 110 employees.
    Advertisement

    A spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp., the publicly owned parent of Sears and Kmart department stores, confirmed the closing, saying the 29-year-old Westside store is being shut for “underperformance.”

    It is among five stores Sears is closing nationwide by January. Only one of the others, in Florissant, Mo.,is a full-line department store like the Lafayette Square Mall store.

    Store employees will be given severance pay and can apply to work at other Sears and Kmart stores, said Kim Freely, the Sears spokeswoman.

    Among those being laid off are a store manager, 19 cashiers, 15 customer solutions consultants and four auto technicians,the layoff notice says.

    The Sears store will start marking down prices of items on Nov. 2, as it liquidates its inventory, and the closing should occur around Jan. 11, Freely said.

    A mall spokesperson couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. of New York bought the 40-year-old mall in December 2007 from Simon Property Group of Indianapolis and has been trying to lure new tenants to fill vacancies. In September, the mall announced the coming of a Shoppers World department store to the space that formerly held a J.C. Penney store. A Lazarus department store also previously closed at the mall.

    The Westside mall faces increased competition from a Wal-Mart superstore that opened in January just to the north of the mall off Lafayette Road.

    Freely wouldn’t blame the Wal-Mart for putting pressure on the Sears store. “I can’t really draw a correlation between the two. Retail’s a competitive business. We always have competitors around us.”

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081017/BUSINESS/81017029

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  42. Was at Lafayette Square yesterday and it’s actually quite busy and seemed to be doing well. The Sears is already having the GOOB sale. But all in all has a lot of traffic. One great thing I haven’t seen is little indoor playground sections inside the mall, made for open fun and good energy.

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  43. Looking at the directory posted by patron zero om 06/10/08 I would say that this is from somewhere between 1983-1987. A couple of tell tale signs are that George Thomas Florist is missing down by the Ayres store. They moved across the street to the new Lafayette shoppes in the late summer of 1983. Also the Limited express is listed as a tenant and that division was formed in the early eighties. This store was the first express in Indianapolis. Another sign is Crawford’s bakery is listed as a tenant. They opened in 1981 and moved downtown in 1987. Finally, Lazarus accquired Block’s in 1987 and moved into the Block’s space I think in early 1988.

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  44. What I find strange is Sears has kept their store open at Washington Square but Macy closed that mall’s location and now Sears is closing at Lafayette Square where Macy still does business. Anyone see that as odd ?

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  45. In 1987 Block’s was merged into Lazarus. At that point Lazarus at Lafayette Square relocated from the NW wing near Sears to Center Court. Within a year, Montgomery Ward’s had taken over the original Lazarus space.

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  46. Excerpts from the article:

    Macy’s to close store at Lafayette Square Mall
    By Tom Spalding
    Posted to The Indianapolis Star website January 8, 2009

    Macy’s plans to close its store in Lafayette Square Mall, news that will come as a blow to the Northwestside. The apparel and merchandise giant will close the 160,000-square-foot location, one of 11 being shuttered nationally, after a final clearance within the next week. It’s unclear what will happen to the building, which has hosted some type of retail since 1974. “These closings are part of our normal-course process to prune underperforming locations each year in order to maintain a healthy portfolio of stores,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer. The announcement came at 8 a.m. as Macy’s reported a 4 percent decrease in sales in December. Macy’s didn’t single out a reason for the Lafayette Square anchor store closing, but blamed market changes, new competing shopping centers and a change in shopping habits. Sears also recently pulled out of the mall.

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  47. Sadly the handwriting was on the wall and now appears on the Indianapolis Star webpage, Macy’s is closing the location at Lafayette Square Mall, not a surprise to anyone who has been following Macy’s declining profits across the nation,

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20090108/BUSINESS/90108016

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  48. Right now, the large church that was in the spot where the most recent Lazarus used to be has been replaced by an indoor theme park kind of place called Xscape. It has arcade games and rides and things like that. It reminds me of Jillians in the descriptions and videos I’ve seen. I haven’t gotten to see it up close in person yet. Other than that the mall is dead and depressing compared to what it was like during my youth in the 80s. I last made a very hasty daytime visit to the place with my boyfriend to return a video game to the GameStop store. Stores were shut down all over the place. I was surprised to see Cinnabon open because I thought it had closed at one point. Even during our short visit, some guy on a bench pestered us to buy his bootleg mix CDs as we were headed out the door. The place is just embarrassing. I resent how much more of everything the north side of town seems to get compared to the west side where I live, as well as the east and south sides. Not sure what to do to change things… wish I knew.

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  49. When I was in high school (Speedway) the “Square” was the place to troll.
    It was a fun place to just hang out – walk around – have a coke. We were regulars for single pieces of candy at Fannie Mae.

    And as I grew older – it was the first place my kids saw Santa.

    I really do miss the glory days. Now its like a cheesey flea market.

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    dotties dad Reply:

    @Spark Plug, youre right it was the place tobe and work what year did you graduate speedway?

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  50. I’m only 22 and have seen this mall rise and fall a few times now. Your site has done an excellent job of documenting its ups and downs; mostly people just say, “It’s gone downhill,” but don’t acknowledge the whole history. I’m worried that history really is ending now though.

    LS is probably the closest mall to me (well actually, downtown’s Circle Center- where I work- and Plainfield’s new open-air mall, Metropolis, which opened in 2005, are all about the same distance from me), but my family stopped going there about five years ago, around the time of several crimes and store closures. Once Old Navy, American Eagle, and other stores closed, my teenage sister and I were less inclined to go. Recently I started wondering what it looked like now, and finally found a reason to go inside when I needed to get a tire fixed nearby. While my car was in the shop, I walked across the parking lot and wandered around for a few hours.

    Macy’s is on its way out, as the most recent poster noted. It was a shame to see its racks emptied and discounts on everything remaining; I remember when going there when it was an L.S. Ayres. (Am I remembering that right, or was Ayres next door?) A dismal (but cheap) Shopper’s Village has taken over another anchor spot, but only the first floor. They stopped the escalators and put doors around them- rather creepy. There are long stretches of the hallways with no retailers, and many are “urban” retailers or locally-owned stores. Surprisingly, there’s still a nice Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, and Children’s Place, but few of the other stores you’d see at any other Indianapolis mall. The whole place was depressing, and label scars abound. Perhaps I should go back and take photos.

    The other malls I mentioned have drawn westside shoppers away from LS since the mid-90s, and the neighborhood has become less affluent and more crime-ridden. For quite a while I thought LS could survive in its market with a few anchors and its mix of “urban” and “mainstream” retailers, but now that Macy’s and Sear’s are out, I’m not sure. I heard a couple was assaulted in broad daylight there this week. However, on the snowy Wednesday morning I stopped in, there was a fair amount of traffic, so you never know. Perhaps it can still find a niche AND be a reasonably safe place. I’d really like to see LS thrive again. My mom speaks nostalgically about having fun there as a teenager in the 60s and 70s, and I have fond memories of shopping there as a kid. I hate to see it- and that whole stretch of W. 38th Street- go through such an economic downturn, but that’s exactly what’s happening. People have predicted LS’s death before, and been wrong, and I certainly hope I am.

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  51. Oh, and I can’t forget MCL Cafeteria being there! They decided not to renew their lease in the early ’00s, removing the only non-food court meal option.

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  52. I have worked at Lafayette Square Mall for six years. I have seen first hand how a property can be beaten down. In December 2007 Simon Property Group sold the mall to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC Realty). AAC Realty specializes in bringing distressed properties back to life. In just one short year we have opened up several new stores and made moderate enhancements.

    Our goal at Lafayette Square Mall is to bring it back and make it more family oriented. We are at the beginning of a $12million redevelopment plan and are very excited for the changes to come.

    We have added two new play areas to the mall, retail chains, and construction on our new digital pylon signs have begun. Our facade will begin it reconstruction as we get into the summer seasons.

    I encourage everyone to keep up on our story. I guarantee the change is coming.

    shoplafayettemall.com

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  53. Barbara, I, as a reader of this blog, find it hard to believe how Lafayette can survive, especially after losing Macy’s, Sears, and Steve & Barry’s. I also have little faith in AAC, after they let Grand Avenue Mall (now The Shops at Grand Avenue) go badly downhill.

    But I could be wrong.

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  54. Well Jonah, it’s a tough market and Milwaukee is a tough city… Most places are going downhill in this economy. On the flipside, AAC did a good job with Eastland Mall in Detroit of all places and I have read this entertainment park in Lafayette is doing very well. Time will tell but all things considered, it could work out.

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  55. I worked at Lazarus in the winter 1978 between labor day to right before Christmas.

    I was the warehouse lead there.The mall was in it’s prime and a very cool place to work.

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  56. My first “real” job as a teenager was with Sears at Lafayette Square back in the early 1970′s. I was indeed a very cool place to work. I also worked for a short time in the Pet Shop and at L.S. Ayres. I watched many a movie at the Cinemas – both indoor and the one built later in the far south parking lot. Hung out with friends and had lots of family shopping trips. It was a great place back then. It was painful to watch its decline. I miss it.

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  57. I remember going to this mall as a kid. I had asthma and we went to a specialist in Indy. I can remember buying neat sweaters at a specialty store inside the front doors. I can picture that sweater in my mind. This mall was to be avoided for several years do to the crime as many have stated. Years later I married and lived close to this mall and remember buying my first set of “good dishes” at the Montgomery Ward near the store’s end. The girl that said she should return for pictures should do so and post them. I’d love to see what it looks like now. I’ve been living out of state for 3 years now and can’t even remember my last visit to this mall. I know I entered Lazarus when I went last and you say it’s a church now! WOW! Thanks for the memories.

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  58. i worked at blocks in the late 70′s the mall was the place tobe and on the weekends we went across the street to the lafayette rd drive-in

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  59. I was thinking what if we made like an Urban style mall add some real top graffiti artists to put there flavor in the mall and have a Russel Simmons chop in the mall right along with his phat farm and his x- wife baby fat like a Macy or something but urban keep it like it is but add flavor to the content and keep it luxurious and artistic to Lafayette mall ten you will win that side of town keep some moms and pops owner in there but they have to meet the buildings specs that is all then everyone come off a winner.

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  60. LS used to be part of my grandparent’s farm. Until around 1985 their farmhouse was still sitting on the hill across the street from LS. Now the house AND the hill are gone too. We used to find arrowheads and prehistoric tools in the ground whenever Grandpa plowed those fields where LS now stands. So much has changed.

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  61. I don’t have anything good to report about the old Square- the effort to get more stores in kinda split down the middle. Shopper’s World is doing okay from what I can see, and Xscape had to close after a child was seriously injured on a ride and it was discovered they didn’t have the permits to operate the rides. Incredible Pizza Company took over the space- but as of the latter part of 2011 they’ve cut their hours to Friday through Sunday “during the school year”, but the other (Greenwood) location still has full hours. Maggie Moos and some cookie company came and went, and there are lots of holes- but in the old Firestone outlot, there is a new Service Centre that’s being used as a meeting place, an art gallery, and a community garden. It did my heart good to see something coming out of Lafayette Square that didn’t end with “and that’s why I’m never going there again”. I believe in buliding reuse, and I hope to see more people, and businesses, realizing that sprawl is not beneficial in the long run.

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  62. I remember going to this mall as a kid back in the 60s and 70s. There was an Aladdin pinball place just off the main entrance and it was just pinball machines (imagine that?). The J. C. Murphy store was the greatest; with a long candy counter center going straight back it was a sight to see. Also at the Murphy store was huge brass kettle they made unbelievable caramel pop corn. You’d get a bag and it was still warm and gooey. The smell of this thing would fill the whole wing of the mall.

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  63. And… Incredible Pizza is closed, for unspecified reasons. It was rather abrupt (we actually found out when we tried to take my nieces there). There are businesses hanging in there, but there are fewer every time I go. Plus, there is major facade work needed. I shouldn’t fear for my car if I park too close to the building.

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  64. Darnit, it’s so sad to look at the wikipedia article, and see Burlington Coat Factory is the last store still in an anchor space, along with Shopper’s World. Something sure makes me think this mall should consider making a play to get Ross Dress for Less to open here, in one of the vacant anchor spaces. Of course it won’t undo the past damage of Penney’s and Macy’s leaving, but still.

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  65. I went to Lafayette Square this week. I was glad to see new thing open, but distressed to see that so many storefronts are empty that they can’t keep them disguised. The last original tenant, GNC closed, and you know what they say when GNC leaves.
    I’m calling it, as much as it hurts my heart. 5 years, and I’m being generous.

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