Simon no longer managing day-to-day operations at downtown’s Circle Centre mall

Chicago-based brokerage JLL has taken over the day-to-day management of Circle Centre from Simon Property Group after the latter ran the downtown mall for 26 years.

Indianapolis-based Simon retained JLL to start providing services at the four-story shopping center on April 1, although Simon will continue to oversee leasing. Downtown Indy Inc. confirmed to IBJ the management transition had been finalized.

JLL sent a letter, dated April 21, to the mall’s tenants to inform them of the change, indicating it is in the process of hiring a general manager for the property.

The mall—except for the former Nordstrom space—is owned by the city. But Circle Centre Development Corp.—a partnership that includes Simon, Eli Lilly and Co. and other investors that put $75 million into the original development in 1995—leases it through an agreement with the Department of Metropolitan Development. Simon had managed the mall from the outset.

Multiple mall tenants told IBJ they received letters earlier this week sharing the news, but most of them said they don’t know exactly what the change will mean for the future of the property. Some tenants said they were not aware of the change in management until contacted by IBJ.

All of the tenants who spoke with IBJ did so on the condition of anonymity, out of fear of retaliation.

“I think [Simon] decided it was time for a fresh set of eyes, and I would agree with that,” one store owner said. “It’s been a struggle for them to keep tenants in the mall because of the unique nature of the property. Simon is really good at property management. Most malls, there’s no trouble with managing them. Circle Centre is a totally different animal.”

The individual said Simon first told tenants about the change in March but offered limited details.

“They said there would be new management,” the person said. “There was no indication in that particular communication” about what that meant for the mall.

The management change follows years of uncertainty about Circle Centre’s future, first after anchor store Nordstrom left in 2011 and then after a second anchor, Carson’s, left in 2018. The pandemic led to the closure of several additional stores and restaurants—and took away the mall’s key clientele: downtown workers and convention goers.

During the pandemic, Simon worked with tenants on modified rent payment schedules and offered extensive flexibility for store hours.

Simon recently completed a $20 million renovation of the property, including upgrades of entrances, the food court, bathrooms and various gathering spaces.

Some new tenants are lined up for the property, including Sugar Factory, which is moving into the former Palomino space along Illinois Street, and Co-Hatch, which will locate in the north end where Granite City had been. But other spaces—including the 144,000 square feet that housed Carson’s and the former Primanti Bros. restaurant at Maryland and Illinois streets—remain vacant.

Neither JLL nor Simon returned messages requesting comment for this story. A representative for the Circle Centre Development Corp. also did not return a request for comment.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been clarified to say that Simon Property Group retained JLL to handle day-to-day management of Circle Centre mall. You can see more of IBJ’s clarifications and corrections here.