Do We Need Another Mall?

Do We Need Another Mall?

Do We Need Another Mall?

September 30, 2007—Paraphrased Article from Indianapolis Star

By: Chris Sikich and Dana Knight

For all the shoppers in affluent Hamilton County and Indy's Northside, places to spend cash abound. There's Castleton Square Mall, The Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing and Carmel's Clay Terrace.

And on Saturday, the doors opened to the first major anchor at the area's newest retail center: the 950,000-square-foot Hamilton Town Center, an open-air mall.

So the question looms: Does the area really need another mall? Can it succeed among all the competition?

"It's our hometown. We are not going to take any unnecessary risks," said Rod Vosper, vice president of development for Simon Property Group, which has a near-monopoly on the Indianapolis-area mall scene.

"Since we own the other centers here in town, we're very careful to make sure we are actually complementing ourselves. We certainly are not trying to hurt ourselves."

Hamilton Town Center, a haven of retail, entertainment and restaurants set to open in 2008, is just part of the explosive development at Exit 10 along I-69 in Noblesville. Simon and Gershman Brown & Associates are developing the mall, and they say much research and demographic study took place before they took the plunge. Hamilton County ranks as the 16th most affluent county in the nation and the 18th fastest-growing.

The retail center will add about 3,000 jobs.

Despite all the other available shopping nearby, Hamilton Town Center is catching the eye of many Noblesville-area residents. Why? Because a good mall can never be close enough, said Bill French, senior vice president for Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. Simon has two other nearby malls. Castleton is 10 miles away and the Fashion Mall 12 miles.

George Riser, who was shopping last week at Castleton, Simon's 1.3 million-square-foot enclosed mall near 82nd Street and Allisonville Road, can't wait for Hamilton Town Center. "When that opens, I promise you that you will never see me fighting Castleton traffic again," said Riser, who lives in Noblesville about three miles from Hamilton Town Center.

Janet Roberts, Noblesville, who lives just north of the new 146th Street, said she will shop the mall for herself and her grandchildren. She currently heads out to Castleton or Clay Terrace, a nearly 500,000-square-foot outdoor shopping center at U.S. 31 and 146th Street. "I hope they have a lot of stores they have at Castleton or Clay Terrace," she said. "That way I don't have to go to Castleton or drive as far to go to Carmel."

Hamilton Town Center also will have a built-in audience. In addition to nearby residential areas, more and more workers are flocking to the area.

In the adjacent Saxony development, a 750-acre project by Republic Development in Fishers and Noblesville, 500,000 square feet of commercial projects are under construction. When complete, Saxony will feature 1 million square feet of retail space, 3.5 million square feet of office/industrial space and 1,300 homes.

Community Health Network already has a 50,000-square-foot health pavilion in the area. And Clarian Health Partners and St. Vincent Health also are building health facilities nearby.

"They are going to have a ready-made audience just from the workers at all these businesses here," said Cindy Gilliam, who lives about five miles from Hamilton Town Center. "But the residents are going to make this place a success. We so need a mall in our area."