Simon Property Group is no longer an owner of Circle Center Mall in downtown Indianapolis, selling its share in a deal that’s launching a conversation about how to redevelop the mall.
Adam Collins, counsel for the mall’s owner, Circle Center Development Co, confirmed to IndyStar Friday morning that Simon sold its minority ownership interest — of approximately 15% — in the mall to the remaining majority owners.
Circle Center Development Co. is a limited partnership of 17 business and corporate investors, and the mall’s original investors. IndyStar has reached out to Simon for a comment.
“As it relates to the initiation (sale), it was relative to this ongoing conversation between the parties about what was best for the asset,” said Collins, a partner at the Indianapolis law firm Wallack Somers & Haas.
The deal was finalized Dec. 30.
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Collins declined to reveal how much Circle Center Development Co. paid to buy out Simon’s interest and release it from the ownership group.
It appears the deal won’t impact tenants, at least immediately. JLL, the commercial real estate firm Simon brought in to help manage the mall, will continue in its management role.
“The ownership group would continue to manage the mall in the same fashion that it’s been managed for the last five to 10 years,” Collins said. “Nothing’s changing from our perspective, in terms of how the model operates, how it’s been managed.”
With an eye toward the future long-term uses of the mall, Circle Center Development Co. is soliciting ideas from architectural design firms about what the mall could be going forward.
The ownership entity has selected five groups, including RATIO Design and Meticulous Design + Architecture of Indianapolis; CSO Architects also of Indianapolis; Woolpert Inc, which has a local office, and Miami-based Arquitectonica; Dorsky + Yue International Architecture, which has offices in Florida and Ohio; and the Ball State University College of Architecture and Planning, to submit ideas for the future uses of the mall.
“The ownership is committed to searching for a development partner who can implement that vision in a way that’s mutually beneficial for the city, the state, and the ownership,” Collins said.
Circle Center Development Co. expects the design and pre-development stage to be completed by the end of 2022. Afterward, the company will begin on the next steps to redevelop the mall.
Simon, the largest mall operator and owner in the United States, no longer lists Circle Center Mall as one of its Indiana properties. The Circle Center Mall now has its own standalone website.
Simon’s remaining Indiana properties include Castleton Square Mall and the Fashion Mall at Keystone, College Mall in Bloomington, Greenwood Park Mall, Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville, Indiana Premium Outlets in Edinburgh, Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City, Tippecanoe Mall in Lafayette and University Park Mall in Mishawaka.
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Circle Center Mall has been a focal point and destination in downtown Indianapolis since its opening in 1995, often credited as the catalyst for the area’s revitalization.
In a news release, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett noted that the construction of the mall was the direct product of city and civic leaders working collaboratively to revitalize downtown.
“For nearly three decades, the property has served as a critical attraction and amenity for residents and visitors, alike,” Hogsett said. “Now, in that same spirit of collaboration, we are embarking on a journey to reimagine the property and drive the continued evolution of the economic and civic hub that is our Mile Square.”
In recent years, the mall has been on the decline as key tenants, such as Nordstrom and Carson’s department store, closed locations there.
The growth in e-commerce retail sales also has impacted brick-and-mortar stores and the pandemic accelerated the shift to online shopping. Nontraditional tenants began moving into the mall several years ago. IndyStar and its parent company, Gannett, moved into the anchor space left vacant by Nordstrom in 2014 and a school opened on the fourth floor.
During the pandemic, Circle Center Mall lost more retail tenants, including Victoria’s Secret, Express, GameStop and Eddie Bauer. H&M recently closed.
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The property is no longer viewed exclusively as a mall, Indy Chamber Vice President for Indianapolis Economic Development Portia Bailey-Bernard said in the news release.
“There’s a brand new opportunity to do more and create an impactful development for our city,” Bailey-Bernard said. “This is no longer being looked at as just a mall but a mixed-use property, and opportunities like this highlight how relationships between our public and private sectors allow for optimal development in Indianapolis.”
Collins said the buyout of Simon’s ownership will not impact existing tenant leases.
“None of the leases or other management agreements have changed,” he said. “The city’s relationship with the ownership group stays exactly the same as it has for the last 30 years.”
Contact IndyStar reporter Alexandria Burris at email@example.com or call 317-617-2690. Follow her on Twitter: @allyburris.