Northway mall to gain new concept for North Hills' shoppers
By Tory N. Parrish
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Pennsylvania's first enclosed mall will go through some growing pains during the ailing center's redevelopment through spring 2016, said an official with the owner of the Shoppes at Northway in Ross.
Turning around Northway's low occupancy rate — 43 percent of the leasable space is occupied — is a challenge that requires the right layout, the right mix of tenants and sound economic choices, said Kevin Fallon, vice president of development at Akron, Ohio-based Levey & Co.
“It's a capital-intensive environment to some extent. If anyone could do it, it would have been done,” he said.
Levey, which bought the mall on McKnight Road in 2012, plans in May to announce a new concept plan and lineup of stores that will open, he said.
Levey has talked with potential tenants such as Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and Nordstrom Rack, Fallon said. Both are off-price versions of high-end stores. Saks said it has no plans for Northway.
Northway opened as a strip mall in 1953. It was enclosed in 1962.
It has been plagued by store closures, including a Border's book store, which closed in 2011 after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. Others that closed include party supply store Party City in 2009, and Value City department store and an Old Navy apparel store in 2008.
One of the remaining three anchors, Dick's Sporting Goods, which is in a 70,000-square-foot space, will move to the new McCandless Crossing shopping center this spring, Fallon said.
In addition to the mall's unusual layout, some other issues are an insufficient number of anchor stores and the lack of a food court to draw people into the mall to browse, said Gayle Marco, a professor of marketing at Robert Morris University.
Some of the mall's longtime business operators say their businesses are fine because they draw repeat customers.
“Thank God for that,” said Paul Mancino, owner of Mamma Lucia's Pizza restaurant, which has been in Northway since 1974.
“We don't do business because of the mall,” he said.
Opened in 2002, Bliss Hair Studio doesn't get as much walk-in clientele as it once did because there is less foot traffic at the mall, but the salon is doing fine because of word-of-mouth referrals, owner Dianne D'Amico said.
Still, because most of the salon's customers are women, D'Amico would like to see Northway add more stores that would attract women.
“I think anything at this point is good,” she said.
Several shoppers said Northway should not attempt to compete with high-end Ross Park Mall, which is a mile away, but instead play up its discount retailers such as its Marshall's department store and Aldi grocery store, and bring in more.
“I guess just better deals (would be a draw),” said Glenshaw resident Winona Shearer, 30, while shopping at the Northway Dollar store Monday.
Levey is not confirming any tenants yet, Fallon said. “We're talking to a lot of people,” said Fallon, who did say the company hoped to bring in more fashion-oriented stores.
Nordstrom is scouting for a location to open the Pittsburgh area's first Nordstrom Rack, said Brooke White, spokeswoman for Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc.
The company has 140 Nordstrom Racks across the country and hopes to have 230 by 2016, she said.
“We find it works best by having the Rack located across the street or near by the Nordstrom store. We have been very happy with the results of our Nordstrom store at Ross Park Mall,” she said, referring to the only Nordstrom location in the Pittsburgh area.
Other potential tenants are showing interest in Northway, said Jared Imperatore, vice president of retail services at Grant Street Associates Inc., a commercial real estate firm Downtown.
Two of his clients, a Moe's Southwest Grill franchise and European Nails, would like to open locations in the mall, he said.
“Northway says they have some big-box people that they want to work through before they look at the smaller tenants,” he said.
Staff writer Sam Spatter contributed to this story. Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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