Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n16)
Glendale reborn: Mayor and Kite display plans for the mall's redevelopment
by Alan Hague
posted: Aug. 10, 2007
On July 19, 2007, Kite Realty Group held a press conference at rain-soaked Glendale Mall to unveil the plans for the new Glendale Town Commons project. I remember going to Glendale Mall to see Santa back in 1964, before Glendale had a roof. I spent my high school years playing pinball at Times Square in the Glendale Galleria. This press conference was a must-attend event.
Upon arrival, each member of the press received a Glendale backpack decorated with an image of the historic penguin sculpture. The bag contained a packet of development information and renderings of the project. Panera Bread, a future Glendale Town Commons tenant, provided coffee, muffins and bagels.
A stage was set up in the middle of a recently demolished section of what was originally the Wm. H. Block Co. department store. This later became Lazarus and eventually this three story structure became Staples on the lower level, Old Navy on the ground floor, and a branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library (IMCPL) on the upper level. When I say the stage was in the middle of this construction site, I mean in the middle in three dimensions. This demolition area, with exposed I-beams and hanging bits of cut steel, is beneath the still open library and above the still open Staples. With machines digging on one side and sparks from welders torches flying on the other, the press gathered in front of the stage as several executives from Kite Realty and Mayor Bart Peterson approached the podium.
Indianapolis Major Bart Peterson took time out from property taxes to welcome the new development to the city.
"Behind us used to be called Glendale Mall," said Tom McGowan of Kite Realty. "This mall dates back to 1959. It has served this community in a great fashion for many decades. What will ultimately occur with this project will be known as Glendale Town Commons. Believe it or not, what you are standing on right now is below an operating library - this is a very complex project.
"Glendale Town Commons will be a 550,000 square foot open-air shopping center. It will be anchored by one of the great retailers in America - Target. Kite, with the assistance of the City of Indianapolis, pursued Target for over a year. In addition to Target, we will have approximately 50,000 square feet of additional small shops constructed around Macy's department store. On top of that, 18,000 square feet of office space."
Tom explained that two outlot parcels will also be part of the Commons and will include Panera Bread.
John Kite, CEO of Kite Realty Group, followed Tom at the conference. "As a small kid, I remember coming here and playing on the penguins," recalled John. "Actually, having my parents drop me off at the yellow submarine and coming back five hours later. We all have a connection in the community to this property. We bought [Glendale Mall] in 1999 and have been working ever since then to find the right combination for the property. This [project] is a great example of the private sector (Kite) and the public sector (City of Indianapolis) working together."
John then introduced mayor Bart Peterson. "This is a spectacular day for the people in the Glendale area," exclaimed the mayor. "I, like John, played here. It was born the same year I was born - 1958. It was an open-air mall, as all malls were back then.
"Most people would consider Target to be the hottest retailer in America today. My mother says there is no place else in the world she would want to be - to be in Target. She's very open about it," laughed Peterson. "I know a lot of people that feel the same way. To add that along with Macy's, Kerasotes Theater and this extraordinary library right above us." About this time, the stage backdrop started falling forward with a large support pipe headed straight for the mayor. The stage crew was able to catch the curtain before it wiped out our mayor. "I didn't see it falling," laughed Peterson, "I saw the faces in the audience. You should have seen the expressions on your faces!"
Next, the renderings of the finished project were unveiled. An interesting design element is the sandwiching of a new Target store between the second floor library and the below ground Staples store. Target will fill the space where Old Navy was and will extend beyond the existing footprint to the north and the east. New retail spaces will also be built along the facades of Macy's department store (originally L.S. Ayres).
To the right of the stage, the original penguin sculpture was on display. The penguins have been at Glendale for children to play on since the mall opened. The penguins will be installed at the entrance of the library for new generations to explore.
The dancing penguins will remain a presence, even at the new and improved Glendale Town Commons.
The hard hat tour attendees gathered by the sculpture. The tour was led by Jay Krist, project manager for Glendale Town Commons, and began under the now free-standing mall roof. This was the roof that was added in the 1960s to enclose the mall. All of the stores between Macy's and the library have been razed. Jay explained that there is a further complexity in the project. Under where we were standing is the Glendale tunnel. The tunnel used to facilitate deliveries to all of the mall stores, including the below ground Galleria shops. It also houses the power distribution and the heating and cooling plant for Macy's and the library. Since those systems must remain in operation, the tunnel will be kept. The new parking lot, occupying the spot where the covered mall had been, will be built over the tunnel.
Hard hat tour guide Jay Krist explains a fraction of the new development to tour attendees.
Jay showed us the large caverns in the ground on both sides of the tunnel that were the basements of the mall stores. The basements on the east side of the tunnel became the Galleria around 1975 when several of those spaces were converted into a subterranean mini-mall for stores such as Burger King, Radio Shack, Mr. Poster, and Times Square. When the ground-level stores were razed, the basement structures were exposed.
The tour ended at the Macy's end of the mall. Jay used the renderings to point out where the new shops, restaurants and offices will be located, to the west and north of the department store. The west structure is under construction. The north structure construction is due to begin in early 2008.
What used to be the basement area called The Galleria, where kids hung out and played video games, has become a construction zone preparing for a new parking lot.