Century III Mall

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Century III Mall
Century III Mall logo
Century III Mall interior.jpg
Location3075 Clairton Rd. (PA 51)
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania 15123
Coordinates40°20′17″N 79°56′38″W / 40.338°N 79.944°W / 40.338; -79.944Coordinates: 40°20′17″N 79°56′38″W / 40.338°N 79.944°W / 40.338; -79.944
Opening datePhase I - October 24, 1979
Phase II - March 12, 1980
Closing dateFebruary 16, 2019
DeveloperEdward J. DeBartolo Corporation
ManagementMoonbeam Capital Investments LLC
OwnerMoonbeam Capital Investments LLC
No. of stores and services1 (JCPenney), 200 at max.
No. of anchor tenants6 (5 vacant, 1 open)
Total retail floor area1,290,000 square feet (120,000 m2)
No. of floors3 (2 in JCPenney, Former Macy's, Former Sears, and Former Macy's Furniture, 1 in Former Dick's Sporting Goods and Former Steve and Barry's)
Parking6,000 space garage and lot
Public transit accessBus transport Port Authority bus: 59, Y1, Y46
Websitecenturyiiimall.com

Century III Mall was an enclosed shopping mall located in the southern Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. It had been the third largest shopping mall in the Greater Pittsburgh area. The mall was originally developed and owned by Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation. From 1996-2011, Century III was owned and operated by Simon Property Group. It is currently owned and operated by Las Vegas-based Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC. JCPenney is the last remaining store on the property.

History[edit]

The mall was originally built in 1979. The three-level mall contained 1,290,000 square feet (120,000 m2) of retail space and over 200 shops and restaurants. The Phase I segment of seventy-five stores was dedicated on October 24, 1979. This included three anchors; a 2-level 121,300 square foot, Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's, 2-level 173,200 square foot JCPenney and 2-level 168,100 square foot Montgomery Ward. The Kaufmann's unit was the chain's fourth shopping mall store and the first in the Pittsburgh region to anchor a mall-type center. Phase II, and its forty-six stores debuted March 12, 1980. Phase II of Century III Mall added the fourth and fifth anchors to the complex; a 2-level 126,000 square foot Gimbels-Pittsburgh which began business in July 1980 and 2-level 231,000 square foot Sears which opened in October 1980. In 1997, the mall received an $8 million face-lift.

Anchors[edit]

JCPenney, the last remaining store open
  • Gimbels – opened 1980, closed in 1988 due to the chain filing for bankruptcy. In 1994, it split between Marshall's (upper level) and T.J.Maxx (lower level). Marshall's closed in 1996, and in 1997, Wickes Furniture opened in its place. In 1998, T.J.Maxx became T.J.Maxx 'n More. In 2003, T.J.Maxx 'n More closed, and Steve & Barry's moved in its place. In 2004, Wickes closed and Dick's Sporting Goods moved into its place. Steve & Barry's closed in 2009 due to the chain filing for bankruptcy. On March 24, 2019, a bankruptcy judge had granted approval to reject the lease of Dick's Sporting Goods. They announced their closure on the same day and closed on March 30, 2019.
  • Kaufmann's – became Macy's in September 2006, closed in March 2016.
  • Montgomery Ward – opened 1980, closed in 1986, and Horne's moved into its place. In 1994, it became Lazarus. Lazarus closed in 1999 due to underperforming sales and became Kaufmann's Furniture Gallery, then in 2006, it became Macy's Furniture, which closed in 2009 due to cost-cuts.
  • Sears – opened 1980, closed December 7, 2014.
  • JCPenney – opened in 1979 with Phase I. The last remaining store open on the property.

Decline[edit]

Entry E at the Mall
Former Dick's Sporting Goods location

In its prime, Century III Mall boasted over 200 stores, services and eateries, which at the time was the largest enclosed shopping center in the Pittsburgh area by store count. The mall's fortunes 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 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 underperforming 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.

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. Macy's Furniture only occupied the lower level.

The Mall went up for sale in 2006 as Simon Property Group determined that the mall didn't fit its long-term outlook of the company and wanted to focus on investing in its more affluent properties. As the mall continued to languish, it 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. In June 2009, it decreased further to $58 million. The struggling mall was noted as being one of America's most endangered malls in a published report by U.S. News & World Report.

American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale, PacSun, Charlotte Russe (clothing retailer), Gloria Jeans, Gymboree, The Children's Place, Gap, Regis, Radio Shack, Payless Shoe Source, Journeys Kids, Vitamin World, 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 to nearby centers. The once-sprawling food court, previously home to over 20 eateries, is now completely closed. Ruby Tuesday, a longtime dining establishment, also closed down in December 2008.

In April 2009, Macy's Furniture closed its Century III location as a cost-cutting measure. Just prior to the closing, the fountain near the food court was drained and filled with mulch. In 2010, La Hacienda opened in the former Ruby Tuesday space, but it also closed and was eventually replaced with Old Mexico Restaurant in 2015. Also during this time, certain sections of mall parking were permanently barricaded and blocked off to the general public, particularly in the parking deck.

Simon Property Group defaulted on its $78 million loan for Century III Mall in August 2011, ultimately transferring ownership to its lenders. From September 2011 to May 2013, the mall was managed by Jones Lang LaSalle. 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. In July 2014, a new double-decker carousel opened in the center court. Sears closed on December 7, 2014. The empty anchor location that used to house Macy's Furniture 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. On October 8, 1994 Richard Simmons danced at center court.In 1999, 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.

The Decline[edit]

By 2015, the mall had become 90% vacant. On June 29, 2015, LensCrafters closed. In January 2016, Macy's announced it would close its Century III store as part of a larger round of closings across the country. On August 25, 2016, French Fry Factory closed. On November 22, 2016, FYE ("For Your Entertainment") announced that they were closing; by December 11, they were closed. Macy's departure resulted in a mass exodus of retailers to leave the moribund mall. Its occupancy rate fell from 40 percent in January 2016 to 10 percent by December 2017. The once-sprawling food court, previously home to over 20 eateries, is now abandoned after the last remaining food court tenant, Italian Village Pizza, closed on July 1, 2017. Two days before, Cash-in Culture announced that they will close after 12 years. On October 7, 2017, 1st and Goal Sports Collectables closed. On October 24, 2017, GameStop closed. In September 2017, Spencer Gifts was closing they came with phase I.

The fast-fading mall would continue to see more departures in 2018. Old Mexico, the last restaurant in the mall, closed in April 2018, leaving the mall with no food tenant.[1] In addition, the double-deck carousel was shut down and dismantled around the same time to be sent to an undisclosed location in Austin, Texas. In April 2018, filming took place in the old Montgomery Ward/Horne's/Lazarus/Kaufauman's Furniture Gallery/Macy's Furniture Gallery wing for the Netflix original series Mindhunter. Filming has since been completed. On April 28, 2018, Hot Topic announced that they will be closing on June 17, 2018. On May 11, 2018, Rainbow announced that they were closing and that their last day would be May 17, 2018.

On June 1, 2018, a walk-through was held for former mall workers and patrons who wanted to tour the mall one last time due to a sheriff's sale. Over 200 people participated in the event.

On August 1, 2018, Verizon wireless would be leaving the mall at the end of the month. They moved to Southland Shopping Center. The next day, Jimmy Jazz closed the Century III Mall location. In September 2018, Bath & Body Works announced that they were closing. Their last day at Century III Mall was October 20, 2018. Victoria's Secret also closed on that same date. On September 4, 2018, a sheriff's sale of the mall was postponed after Moonbeam Capital Investments filed for bankruptcy for the mall at the last minute.[2] On January 1, 2019, Life Uniform, the last of the mall's chain tenants, departed from the Century III Mall. They moved to The Waterfront beside TJ Maxx and Mattress Firm. On January 30, 2019, Sassy's Spa closed the Century III Mall location abruptly.

Century III Mall notice uninhabitable

On February 6, 2019, West Mifflin fire code deemed Century III Mall to be "unsafe, unhabitable" due to numerous code violations, such as a non-functional sprinkler system, and no heat.[3] On February 15, 2019, after 15 years, New Dimension Comics said that they were moving to The Waterfront beside Best Buy and Michael's. On February 12, 2019, Moonbeam's website said the mall was sold shortly after they took the sold banner off of their website. On February 16, 2019, the remaining mall tenants were issued eviction notices. JCPenney and Dick's Sporting Goods were the only remaining stores open at the time.[4] On March 24, 2019, Dick's Sporting Goods announced that they were closing and that their last day would be March 30, 2019. This left 1 remaining and original anchor, JCPenney.[5]

On April 17, 2019, it was announced that a redevelopment plan was coming to the mall.[6]

On June 5, 2019, it was reported that the mall was boarded up and the future of the mall remains unclear; despite the closure, JCPenney remains in operation.[7]

On June 21, 2019, owners indicated that the largely vacant mall would be torn down in March 2020 with the exception of J.C. Penney, which would remain open. In place, a mixed-use development would be constructed on the site. The plan includes incorporating retail, dining and entertainment attractions as well as a hotel, office space and residential units. It is expected to open in 2024.Further information in the bankruptcy dockets reveal a timeline with various dates. The demolition of the mall could begin as early as March 2020 and last 6–12 months. Site remediation, which would include removing existing foundations as well as performing major excavation and bringing in massive amounts of fill to level the entirety of the mall site, would follow shortly after and take 18 months to complete. the first buildings would be built in May 2022.[8] On August 7, 2019,According to information obtained from Inforuptcy, a "motion to reject lease or executory contract of J.C. Penney Properties, Inc." was filed out by Debtor Century III Mall PA LLC, which is part of Moonbeam. On August 31, 2019, Moonbeam's website said that the mall was sold.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Say goodbye to the food court at Century III". upgruv.com. 23 May 2017.
  2. ^ Czbiniak, Madasyn (4 September 2018). "Century III Mall sheriff's sale postponed yet again". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  3. ^ "CENTURY 3 MALL: Century III Mall deemed 'unsafe and uninhabitable' by code enforcement". WPXI. February 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "Century III Mall leases terminated, tenants told they have 30 days to vacate". WTAE. February 16, 2019.
  5. ^ "Dick's Sporting Goods store at Century III Mall is closing". Pittsburgh's Action News 4. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Century III mall redevelopment coming". WPXI. April 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "Century III Mall in West Mifflin is boarded up; future of empty property unknown". WTAE. WTAE. 5 June 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Plans revealed for demolition, redevelopment of Century III Mall". WTAE. WTAE. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2019.

External links[edit]