Natrona Heights, location, West Mifflin center to shut down
January 9, 2009 5:00 AM
The Macy's department store at Heights Plaza Shopping Center in Natrona Heights, which opened in 1956 as a Joseph Horne's, will close.
By Teresa F. Lindeman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Clearance sales should begin in the next week or so at two Pittsburgh-area Macy's locations that have been included in a group of 11 underperforming stores the Cincinnati-based department store operator plans to close.
In Natrona Heights, a small Macy's department that has survived decades of industry change finally will fall victim to the new retail realities.
Meanwhile, the department store operator plans to shutter a furniture and clearance center in Century III Mall that it picked up in the acquisition of the parent company of Kaufmann's department stores. Macy's will continue to operate a department store at the West Mifflin mall.
The Natrona Heights store employed 124 people, while the West Mifflin site had three workers, according to the announcement from the Cincinnati-based retailer. Affected employees may be considered for positions at other stores. Macy's will continue to operate 11 department stores and two furniture stores in the region.
Although the announced closings come as the industry is reeling from a difficult holiday season and retailers are slowing new store development all over, Macy's officials said the moves simply reflect a regular check of the real estate portfolio.
"These closings are part of our normal-course process to prune underperforming locations each year in order to maintain a healthy portfolio of stores," said Macy's Chairman Terry J. Lundgren in an official announcement.
In addition to the Pittsburgh-area stores, Macy's plans to close locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Tennessee.
Many began wondering a few years ago if the 73,000-square-foot Natrona Heights store's future was threatened. The new Pittsburgh Mills mall not far away counts a 173,000-square-foot Macy's store as one of its anchors.
But the little store that opened in 1956 as a Joseph Horne's had survived shifting demographics and owners in the past. At one point, the store was a Lazarus and then became a Macy's, staying open even as the retailer moved toward larger locations and tinkered with its tactics.
It's been a good run, according to Lori Moran, who handles leasing for the 400,000-square-foot center owned by Pittsburgh management company, Ballymoney & Co. In addition to Macy's, the center is anchored by tenants such as Dunham's Sports, Community Market and Big Lots, while Alle-Kiski Medical Center leases a significant amount of space.
She said talks have begun with potential retailers who might be interested in the space, either in its entirety or divided into smaller spaces. Shoppers have remained loyal to the center over the years and she doesn't expect that to change. Including the Macy's and certain pending leases, Ms. Moran said the center is 94 percent leased.
The 83,000-square-foot West Mifflin clearance center came into the Macy's portfolio when the department store operator acquired May Department Stores, which had both a Kaufmann's department store and the clearance center at Century III Mall.
The department store, now a Macy's, will remain open. That's probably good news for the 1.29 million-square-foot mall, which is also losing its Steve & Barry's store following that retailer's bankruptcy filing.
Simon Property Group owns the mall as well as South Hills Village and Ross Park Mall.
"Today's announcement is not surprising given the challenging economic environment," said spokesman Les Morris in an e-mailed response. "We will work diligently to re-tenant the space in an even more appealing manner for our loyal Century III customers."