Shopping center on Indy's east side fights to survive COVID-19 closure

Posted at 12:18 AM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 00:18:25-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The parking lot of the W Street Shopping Center is pretty much a ghost town.

"It's pretty empty," Caleb Paddack said. "I think there's your car, my car and maybe one other one."

No cars outside means there are no shoppers inside and that's bad news for Paddack, the owner of the W Street Shopping Center.

"That is a pretty large problem for us unfortunately," Paddack said. "As a shopping center you kinda like to have customers shopping."

RTV6 first introduced you to Paddack in late 2019 as he remodeled the former flea market on the corner of Washington Street and Post Road. After our story aired, units inside the shopping center were quickly claimed by small business owners. But, not three months after the grand opening, 26 of the 27 stores inside the W Street Shopping Center are shut down as non-essential businesses were forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"So the CBD store is considered a pharmacy and so they are allowed to be open and I'm happy for that owner, but that also has made it more difficult because I have to have my HVAC on, all my lights on," Paddack said. "I still have to be here all day. My bills have essentially not changed at all and the income has drastically shifted unfortunately."

With utilities and the building's mortgage, Paddack is paying more than $8,000 a month. His main source of income, the rent from his 27 tenants, has dried up.

"I got hair and nail salons, I've got barbershops, I got things that can't open," Paddack said. "The state has been very specific. They can't do cuts out in the parking lot so it makes it really difficult for me to push to get rent."

Federal money intended to help pay employees through the shutdown does owner and operator no good.

"I don't have any employees," Paddack said. "I'm basically a one man show."

Paddack said you name the loan, he's applied for it. But that's been difficult for a business that wasn't open a year ago.

"All of the loans are based on the income that you made or declared last year and our business didn't declare any last year so I wasn't eligible for any of the loans," Paddack said.

For now, Paddack is left hoping the community will return and support the business owners inside his shopping center when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

"If it was a normal business and I failed, it's my family, it's me," Paddack said. "But when you're the landlord of a shopping center, I have 27 different families that are relying on me to be able to keep these doors open and that weight is a lot to carry."