JCPenney to remain open during Century III Mall demolition
Century III mall’s lone tenant, JCPenney, said it would remain “for many years to come” despite the mall owner’s plans to demolish the mall and redevelop the property.
“While we don’t provide specific details about our real estate activities, I can tell you that JCPenney is committed to keeping our store in West Mifflin open,” said Sarah Holland, a JCPenney spokeswoman.
In a June 21 court filing, the mall’s owner, Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments, said it plans to redevelop the property over five years, with the design, permitting and demolition phase taking place over six to 12 months for about $10 million.
The mall filed for bankruptcy in September and struggled to stay open until finally closing in February when borough officials deemed it unsafe and inhabitable due to a broken water and fire suppression system.
The mall owners received a $5 million line of credit days after West Mifflin Borough officials deemed it unsafe, but by June the mall was boarded up, leaving JCPenney as the sole operating tenant on the 90-acre property.
Holland declined to say when the retail store’s lease agreement expires.
“JCPenney opened in the Century III mall in 1979, and we value each and every customer we serve here,” Holland said. “We currently operate independently of the mall and want to assure residents that we are committed to serving this community for many years to come.”
The store employs approximately 100 people, she said.
West Mifflin Borough Manager Bryan Kamauf said it was too early to tell how Moonbeam’s plans would affect the area and surrounding businesses.
“Ultimately this has to work out good for the borough. And at this point, I can’t say if it’s a great idea or a bad idea. It’s hard to shoot from the hip and speculate,” Kamauf said.
He did say, however, that demolition and redevelopment would likely not affect other surrounding businesses in the area.
“The rest of retail over there is far enough away that there would be very little impact while they completed the work,” Kamauf said. “But we would love to see the property used in a positive way or redeveloped.”
The manager said the borough’s next step is to review the plans with West Mifflin’s solicitor. Kamauf said the big question is how the project would be funded.
“It might look great on paper, but if no one can fund it, it doesn’t mean anything. This is the very early stages. I’m sure more will come from it,” he said.
Representatives from Moonbeam and its realty partner, McKnight Realty Partners, did not respond to requests for comment.
Court filings reveal the site’s construction would take place over three phases within about 18 months for $20.4 million. Plans propose a blend of office, residential, hotel, entertainment and restaurant spaces.
The plan also makes room for the possibility of creating public space and trails for bikes and pedestrians.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .