Century III Mall

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Century III Mall
Location 3075 Clairton Rd. (PA 51)
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania 15123
Opening date 1979
Developer Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation
Management Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC
Owner Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC
No. of stores and services 85+
No. of anchor tenants 4
Total retail floor area 1,290,000 square feet
No. of floors 3 (department stores are two levels; Dick's Sporting Goods is one level)
Website Century III Mall

Century III Mall is a regional shopping mall located in the southern suburb of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. It is the fourth largest shopping mall in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Opened in 1979, and remodeled in 1997, the three-level mall contains 1,290,000 square feet (120,000 m2) of retail space and approximately 85 stores. Anchor retailers at Century III Mall include Dick's Sporting Goods, J. C. Penney, Macy's, and Sears. From 1996-2011, it was owned and operated by Simon Property Group, and prior to Simon, the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation, who built the mall. It is currently owned and operated by Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC.

History[edit]

The development of the Century III Mall began as a collaboration between the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation of Youngstown, Ohio and the Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corporation in the early 1970s. The name Century III was conceived at the time of the nation's Bicentennial, making light of the time at hand – the advent of America's third century. When the mall opened in 1979, it was the third largest enclosed shopping center in the world. The site is a recycled former U.S. Steel industrial area, a huge slag pile once known as Brown's Dump. Slag, a waste product of steel making, had for years been transported by rail cars from the mills of Pittsburgh to this once remote valley. The pile grew until it became an artificial mountain, as hard as concrete and large enough to contain a mall (as well as many satellite stores). Because of abandoned coal mines beneath the construction site, real concrete had to be pumped underground before construction could begin. More concrete was said to be used in the filling of the old mines than was used in the mall itself.[citation needed]

Decline[edit]

In its prime, Century III Mall once boasted over 200 stores, services and eateries, which at the time was the largest enclosed shopping center in the Pittsburgh area by store count. Presently, the mall is roughly at 50-55% occupancy, not including spaces that are currently "non-leaseable." The mall's fortune's began to reverse by 1999 as nearby competition in the form of the Waterfront opened in nearby Homestead, which has expanded over the years. South Hills Village, located only five miles to the west in Bethel Park, also underwent a major renovation, incorporating a large food court among its amenities. Other factors, such as the worsening economy following the September 11, 2001 attacks and retailer bankruptcies as a result, also led to increasing vacancies. In 1999, it lost its first anchor tenant when Federated Department Stores closed the Lazarus store due to under-performing sales. Other major retailers, such as T.J. Maxx 'n More and Wickes Furniture, have since closed, resulting in additional vacancies.

As early as 2003, Century III Mall was about 20% vacant [1], and as of 2006, it was 30% vacant [2]. Today, the mall is roughly 45-50% vacant with over a third of its spaces occupied by independent merchants. Specialty stores such as KB Toys, Dollar Tree, Express, Steve and Barry's, The Disney Store, Old Navy, New York and Company, Ritz Camera and Macy's Furniture Gallery, have closed or moved over the years, most of the time, never to be filled again. The once-sprawling food court, previously home to over 20 eateries, is now limited to only eight, ranging from Charley's Grilled Subs to Subway. Ruby Tuesday, a longtime dining establishment, also closed down in December 2008. In 2010, La Hacienda opened in the former Ruby Tuesday space, but it has also since closed. Certain sections of mall parking have also been permanently barricaded and blocked off to the general public, particularly in the parking deck, but management has repaved some sections. The mall remains a popular gathering place for senior citizens, and Lifespan and Hands2Help Senior Services are available to enhance and aid them.

Simon Property Group defaulted on its $78 million loan for Century III Mall in August 2011, ultimately transferring ownership to its lenders. The mall was on the selling block since 2006 as Simon determined that the mall didn't fit its long-term overview of the company and focused on investing in its more affluent properties in major cities. From September 2011 to May 2013, the mall was managed by Jones Lang LaSalle.

As the mall continues to languish, this has also affected the mall's assessment value, which stood at $66 million in April 2009, a 40 percent decrease from the previous $112 million in recent years. Prior to that, the mall was valued at $128 million. [1] In June 2009, it decreased further to $58 million. [2]

In June 2009, Century III Mall was named one of America's most endangered malls by U.S. News & World Report.

On May 13, 2013, Century III Mall was purchased by Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC, a real estate investment trust which operates other shopping centers across the United States. Moonbeam's plans for the mall are still pending, but the owners have described the project as having huge potential and a significant growth opportunity, and will eventually morph into a full revitalization of the property.

Former anchors[edit]

The empty anchor location that used to house Macy's Furniture Gallery & Clearance Center has a very full history. In 1979, it was built as a new location for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward chain, which was attempting to expand its presence in the Pittsburgh area. This Wards location only lasted a few years however, and ultimately the entire Wards chain went bankrupt and was liquidated. In 1986, the location then became a unit of The Joseph Horne Company (owned by the New York City based Associated Dry Goods Corporation) which then closed its nearby Brentwood store. In 1994, the location changed names again when the Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores purchased Horne's and converted the chain's locations into its own Lazarus regional nameplate. In 1998, after operating a few years as Lazarus, Federated closed several locations including the Century III store. The location then became a unit of Kaufmann's (which was the largest of the three Pittsburgh-based department store chains), who then opened a Furniture Gallery in that location. Kaufmann's was a division of the St. Louis-based May Department Stores Company. On July 18, 2005, Federated Department Stores purchased the May Department Stores Company. That purchase brought Kaufmann's under Federated ownership. On September 9, 2006, Federated converted all former May Company regional department store nameplates, including Kaufmann's, into Macy's as part of a nationwide re-branding program. That caused the Kaufmann's Furniture Gallery location to be returned once again to Federated Department Stores ownership and renamed Macy's Furniture Gallery. In January 2009, the Macy's Furniture Gallery shuttered its Century III location as a cost-cutting measure.

In popular culture[edit]

Some scenes from the 2010 romance comedy film She's Out of My League were filmed at Century III Mall.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°20′17″N 79°56′38″W / 40.338°N 79.944°W / 40.338; -79.944