West Mifflin Community Day planned at Century III Mall
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 4:11 a.m.
Consider it a coming-out party for a mall seeking new life under new ownership.
“It is still a very safe place to come to,” Century III Mall manager Darrell Huggins said. “I will make it a healthy and attractive place to come to again.”
Huggins hopes Saturday's 20th annual West Mifflin Community Day, the first to be centered around the parking lot at the mall's south main entrance, will start a tradition at the 34-year-old retail center.
“We are already planning the second,” Huggins said. “It will be bigger and better.”
It is one of a series of events on the calendar for Century III, which Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC of Las Vegas bought in May for $10.5 million from C-III Capital Partners LLC of Irving, Texas.
C-III in turn acquired it from Simon Property Group when it defaulted on $78.97 million in debt on the West Mifflin mall.
“It is a big place,” Huggins said. “At 1.3 million square feet it is still one of the largest malls in the state.”
And at 65 percent to 70 percent occupancy, still pretty empty.
“There are several large contracts on the table,” Huggins said. “We are taking some aggressive proposals and moves are being sent out to fill the place with the right tenants. We're looking at the demographic in the area, who is right and who is not quite right for the area.”
Moonbeam is looking at the physical shape of the mall to see what improvements can be made there.
“We are committed to giving the mall back to the community so they can bring their children for an experience that is more than a shopping experience,” said Shawl Pryor, Moonbeam senior vice president, at a Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast in May.
Huggins said the new mall owners “are getting a lot of input” from those who live in the neighborhood, the home buyers and blue collar workers in the West Mifflin area.
He acknowledged “an effort to dispel a lot of the untruths, a lot of the false images that have been created over the past,” including the reports of “five, six, eight years ago” that gangs of crazed teens were running around the mall.
“That does not exist, not at the present time,” Huggins said. “I haven't seen anything on the books over the past three or four years.”
The idea, he said, is “not only to say, ‘We are part of this community and we are looking to be a bigger part of the community,'” but also, “Welcome back to Century III.”
Community Day plans include a live entertainment stage, kids' activities, more than 50 vendors, a classic car cruise and pony rides.
“Teaming up with West Mifflin has been a wonderful experience,” Huggins said. “The mayor, borough management, parks and recreation crew, all are wonderful guys.”
The feeling is mutual, as borough officials expressed at this month's council meeting.
“We've been working hand in hand,” borough recreation and parks director Stephen M. Keron said.
Borough officials also have been touting the environmentally friendly plans for Saturday's event.
“This year it will be totally green,” Mayor Chris Kelly said. “We will be using solar power (and) their backup generator runs on used vegetable oil.”
Community Day opens at 10:30 a.m., The West Mifflin Area High School Titan Marching Band will perform at noon.
Silly pet tricks to benefit the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society will be at 1, the Hot Metal Brass Band at 2, disc jockeys at 3 and 5, the Nitelife Band at 4 and the Silent Partner Band from 6-9.
The mall is attracting positive media. A “Teen Beach Movie” back-to-school bash and fashion show on Aug. 17 brought Radio Disney to the mall.
Saturday's activities will include live broadcasts on WOGI, a part of Keymarket's Froggy network in and around Pittsburgh. The borough bought ad time on the station to promote Community Day.
Huggins is part of what is new at the mall. He was living in Las Vegas, where Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC is based, but did not know about the mall purchase.
“My dad brought it to my attention,” Huggins said. “I shot off a résumé to them, and 10 minutes later I was being interviewed by an aide (to Pryor).”
Other mall events include an “I Do! Wedding Expo” on Sept. 20-22, a Hands-2-Help health fair on Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and “Trick or Treat” on Oct. 24 from 6-8 p.m.
More information is available online at www.centuryiiimall.com.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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