INDIANAPOLIS – It is the latest attempt to revitalize the Lafayette Square Mall area.
City officials unveiled drawings and other plans designed to enhance the international marketplace look and feel around the mall.
Over the past decade, the area has earned a violent reputation. City leaders hope investing in the community’s future will change that perception.
“Crime is crime and we do not want it anywhere, but the truth is that people are coming back to the area,” said Lafayette Square Coalition President Mary Clark.
The neighborhood is embracing its diversity. The people who put the project together are dubbing stretches of Lafayette Road “IM” for “International Marketplace.”
Driving home the international theme will be globed gateways, which will be a takeoff on soccer’s World Cup trophy. The plan also calls for more sidewalks, better bus benches and improved lighting.
“People are going to go ‘wow.’ People are already going ‘wow,’” said Clark.
An area left behind will be Lafayette Square Mall. Organizers say the future of the neighborhood is dining, not shopping. That worries mall shop owner Kevin Brown.
“They are talking about people who used to come here from out of town, “Brown said. “I am talking about people who live right here, right around the corner from the mall.”
Others, like shop owner Jeff Nguyen, see nothing but opportunity.
“We are very excited because that means a lot for our business,” said Nguyen.
For now, Kevin Brown said he’s cautiously optimistic.
“Anything you see that is going in–instead of coming out–is a step in the right direction,” he said.
The project will move quickly. The bidding process starts in May or June, and work is set to wrap up by September.