HAMMOND - The face of downtown retail in Hammond is changing once again with the demolition of Carson’s department store, the one-time anchor of Woodmar Mall. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report excavating crews have started to demolish the last vestige of the shopping center, which has stood since the 1950s.

"People use to shop in downtown Hammond and that changed," said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott. "Woodmar Mall was dominant when I was a kid. It had a lot of shoppers.”

McDermott says the city has received proposals to redevelop the city-owned Carson's property. The mayor hopes restaurants and hotels will spring-up to serve the neighboring $17 million Hammond SportsPlex, a state-of-the-art youth sports facility that opened last year. "There's heavy traffic at that site."

The Hammond store closed last year when Carson’s parent company, The Bon-Ton Stores, filed for bankruptcy, shuttering multiple locations including the store in downtown Indianapolis.

The publication says the store was originally a 115,000 square-foot, two-story department store. A third floor was added when the mall was enclosed in the 1960s.

McDermott told The Times he grew-up with the mall and has fond memories of shopping there, but he says the demolition is indicative of the reality of retail.

“This is the end of the mall era in our city. I don't think malls are a good bet long term anywhere, and I sure wouldn't invest in one," said McDermott.