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Renowned developer of Circle Centre Mall gives the remodeling plan high marks



Indianapolis, Indiana – On Wednesday, a prominent participant in the initial Circle Centre Mall project stated that while the mall fulfilled its intended purpose, it now needs to adapt to modern circumstances.

John Krauss worked for the late Bill Hudnut as deputy mayor from 1982 to 1991. He said at the time that the suburbs were displacing downtown’s population and businesses. Krauss stated that Eli Lilly & Co.’s plans to construct its headquarters contributed to Hudnut’s decision to develop the mall.

“All their prospective employees and everyone else going to Lilly would have to go through something that was not up to par,” Krauss said. “The image that we wanted was this is a way you can invest your time, your money, your family’s lives, and your future, and it’s got to reflect what your needs are.”

Krauss claimed that other American cities had already made significant investments in sizable shopping malls by the time plans for what would become Circle Centre Mall started in the early 1980s. He asserted that Indianapolis needed to catch up or else it would lose money to other cities.

“If we didn’t do anything, Indianapolis was going to be behind the dime and nobody would come here to invest in us,” said Krauss.

The early 1990s recession and the difficulty in securing anchor tenants caused the project to be years behind schedule. Stephen Goldsmith, Hudnut’s successor, decided to continue building. Finally, on September 8, 1995, it opened. Krauss claimed it paid off after that. He claimed that a large portion of the downtown redevelopment that followed, including the creation of White River State Park, new housing buildings, and new sports facilities, was motivated by it.

“It fit in with a pattern. It was a puzzle and those were the last pieces,” Krauss said. “But over time, you’ve got to change what you’re doing, and this looks like a good chance.”

As the twenty-first century progressed, the rise of internet shopping took a toll. The mall was left without anchor retailers when Carson’s closed in 2018 and Nordstrom shuttered its doors in 2011. According to Krauss, the COVID-19 epidemic is the last straw for the traditional retail mall business model.

Hendricks Properties intends to keep a significant amount of retail space in the mall while transforming portions of it into residential areas and outdoor promenades. Krauss expressed his excitement about the direction those initiatives take. He claimed that in response to the needs of customers at the time, the Circle Centre Mall was built. He claimed that because those demands have evolved, the mall must adapt to suit them.

“We still have conventions, we still have amateur sports, and we still have a large segment of people that live downtown,” Krauss said. “So, I think it’s great. Somebody has to come in with new ideas, fresh ideas, because the whole question is, ‘Who is your customer and what does your customer want?’”