The last days of Parkway Center Mall
By Jeff Widmer
Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
In the nearly empty Parkway Center Mall, only the second of three floors remains open.
Last week, Anita Okraszewski of Elliott walked briskly through the dark hallway that few customers patronize now. On cold, windy days, Okraszewski uses the mall's second floor as a walking track.
“It's amazing,” said Okraszewski, who walks several miles a week. “I come here to walk on cold days because I know no one will be here. And it's warm. I can get a good workout. I can walk on the second floor because there is no one here to bug me.”
The cavernous shopping center, visible from the Parkway West and once favored by residents of Green Tree and surrounding communities, is scheduled to close shortly after Kmart shuts down in early January. The few small businesses remaining, including Dalmo Optical and The Sports Deli, plan to relocate by Jan. 13.
The mall opened in the early 1980s and was a busy outlet for many businesses before it began to decline in the late 1990s. Jo Ann Fabrics, PharMor, CompUSA, Syms, National Record Mart, Chi Chi's Restaurant, KayBee Toys, Radio Shack and Payless Shoe Source all are gone.
Mall owner Kossman Development Co. said on Sept. 24 that the mall would close after Kmart, a division of Sears Holding Corp., shuts down when its lease expires. The store opened in 1986 with 54 workers. Kossman is exploring plans for redevelopment, Steve Weisbrod, vice president of business development, has said.
Sophia Zhang has owned Dalmo Optical at Parkway Center for 12 years. The mall's closing is disappointing, she said.
“I worked hard and tried to bring people into the mall. Now look where we are. I will relocate, but I have a long list of patients that want me to stay and want me to stay close,” Zhang said.
Zhang and her two employees will move to Greentree Road in Green Tree.
The Sports Deli, in the mall since 2000, sells sports memorabilia and clothing. Owner Michael Autieri said he's unsure where he will relocate. Autieri believes his core customers will follow him.
“Over the years, most of my customers (came into the store) with their girlfriends. Then they get married, and they have kids. And their kids come here to shop when they grow up,” Autieri said.
Most people — and businesses owners — agree other shopping areas, such as Robinson Town Centre and The Pointe at North Fayette, triggered the downfall of Parkway Center.
Ron Russitano of Scott has owned Phantom of the Attic comic book store for 21 years. Rather than wait until mid-January, he moved the store last month to Noblestown Road across from Noble Manor Shopping Center.
There he has more than three times the space he had at Parkway Center.
“It is pretty big. I have no idea how big. But I'm happy with it,” Russitano said.
He believes the sour economy led to Parkway Center's demise, along with expansion of shopping in Robinson.
“The thing is all of my core customers know I am here,” Russitano said. “I called them, emailed them. I made them aware I was leaving (the mall) months ago.”
Green Tree Manager Dave Montz does not believe the mall's closing will hurt the borough's economy. In fact, residents appear to be more worried about whether the adjoining Giant Eagle supermarket will stay open, Montz said.
Giant Eagle spokesman Dick Roberts said the store will not close, having recently signed a five-year lease.
What will happen to the mall building once it closes is not known, Montz said.
When that occurs, even Okraszewski will have to make changes.
“I know I will have to figure something out,” she said. “It will be ... very cold to walk outside.”
Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Investors put squeeze on prospective homeowners’ American dreams
- How can I delete my search history on Facebook?
- Pennsylvania, other states considering bids to host Boeing 777X production
- Employers say friends can ease work stress
- PNC to pay $81M to Freddie Mac to resolve problem mortgages
- Big oil pushes limits
- Mustang celebrates 50th in grand style
- Market rebounds on strong jobs news
- Workplaces reach out to vets
- Unemployment rate falls as employers add 203,000 jobs nationwide
- American Eagle Outfitters’ quarterly profit down 68 percent