Century III Mall
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|Developer||Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation|
|Management||Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC|
|Owner||Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC|
|No. of stores and services||35+ (Over 200 at peak)|
|No. of anchor tenants||2 (5 at peak)|
|Total retail floor area||1,290,000 square feet (120,000 m2)|
|No. of floors||3 (J.C. Penney is two levels; Dick's Sporting Goods is one level)|
|Website||Century III Mall|
Century III Mall is an ailing enclosed shopping mall located in the southern Pittsburgh 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 35 stores. Anchor retailers at Century III Mall include Dick's Sporting Goods and J. C. Penney. 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.
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.
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's occupancy rate is less than 20%. The mall's fortunes began to reverse by 1999; competition in the form of the Waterfront shopping center opened in nearby Homestead, which has expanded over the years. South Hills Village, located about 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, the mall 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, and as of 2006, it was 30% vacant. Today, the mall is roughly 80% vacant with approximately half of the remaining tenants being composed of independent merchants. Specialty stores such as American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale, PacSun, Charlotte Russe, 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 abandoned after the last remaining restaurant, Italian Village Pizza closed in May 2017. 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 also closed and was eventually replaced with Old Mexico Restaurant in 2015. Most of the parking deck, including parking beneath the structure, is permanently barricaded and blocked off to the general public.
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 outlook of the company and focused on investing in its more affluent properties. 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. 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.
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 redevelopment plans for the mall would've included a partial demolition of the complex and turning the enclosed mall portion inside out, although nothing has ever materialized. In July 2014, a new double-decker carousel opened in the center court. Sears closed on December 7, 2014. In January 2016, Macy's announced it would close its Century III store as part of a larger round of closings across the country. As of spring 2017, only 35 stores and kiosks remain, including anchors J.C. Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods.
- Gimbels – later split between Marshalls (upper level) and TJ Maxx (lower level), eventually becoming TJ Maxx 'n More
- Horne's – later Lazarus
- Kaufmann's – later Macy's
- Kaufmann's Furniture – later Macy's Furniture Gallery
- Lazarus – later Kaufmann's Furniture
- Marshalls – later Wickes Furniture
- Macy's – closed spring 2016
- Macy's Furniture Gallery & Clearance Center – closed January 2009
- Montgomery Ward – later Horne's
- Sears – closed December 2014
- Steve & Barry's – closed January 2009
- TJ Maxx/TJ Maxx 'n More – later Steve & Barry's
- Wickes Furniture – now Dick's Sporting Goods
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. Just prior to the closing, the fountain at that end of the mall was drained and filled with mulch. In late 2010, a large wall was constructed in front of this space, making it inaccessible to the public.
In popular culture
- "Brown's Dump - West Mifflin Slag Mountain".
- "Pittsburgh Retail Real Estate Market Profile".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2006-07-24.
- "Say goodbye to the food court at Century III". upgruv.com. 23 May 2017.
- The Tribune-Review (25 April 2009). "Languishing Century III Mall could reap refunds". TribLIVE.com.
- "West Mifflin School District, borough must repay mall". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- BobKerlik (19 September 2014). "Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin". TribLIVE.com.