Listen Live

INDIANAPOLIS–Washington Square Mall will soon get some upgrades and maybe even a new name. The mall was bought by a company from Ohio and even though Burlington Coat Factory and Dick’s Sporting Goods have left, most of the store spaces are filled.

“When I first pulled up, all the lights were out in the parking lot. The only lighting I saw was coming from signs from Burlington and Target,” said Keith Lee, the new property manager, talking to Terri Stacy on First Day. “I ended up hitting one of the potholes that Indianapolis says are craters. I ended up hitting one of them craters and I ripped my bumper off.”

Though Lee’s first experience at the mall wasn’t pleasant, his aim is to make it a great place to shop again. 

Lee works for Durga Property, of Cincinnati, the mall’s new owner. It was purchased in September. The mall opened 45 years ago and has had several owners, including Simon Properties. But, with subsequent owners stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney left one by one. Tghe latest two stores may seem like a fairly negative piece of news.

But, Lee believes the mall still has life left.

“Washington Square Mall was the number one mall here. So, it’s gonna be hard and it’s gonna be a long journey to even try to get it back to the top three,” he said. “My plan for that whole mall is to rebrand this mall not as Washington Square Mall, because is my opinion the name Washington Square Mall is dead.”

Lee said he has consulted people in the area, many of whom disagree with the notion of renaming or rebranding the mall. But, Lee believes it is necessary to give it a chance for new life.

But, he also pointed out that 62 of the 80 stores are filled.

“That’s really a high percentage in the mall business, per se’.”

Indoor malls have been on a slide across the country, with higher rent for tenants, who have to pay for the mall’s indoor upkeep, like heat and lighting.

But, Lee is optimistic that building good relationships with the stores that occupy the east side mall is key to attracting new tenants, and that doing something each day to either the parking lot, or the outside of the mall will pay off by attracting the people who once had faith in an east side institution.

PHOTO: Terri Stacy/Emmis