Bethel Park residents Lisa and Bob Sill had lunch at South Hills Village on Tuesday, sitting at a table in the food court. Their children were out of school on break.
Do they go to the mall a lot? “Too often,” said Lisa with a laugh.
Does the mall need a renovation? “Absolutely,” said Bob, emphatically.
The almost 50-year-old shopping center, last overhauled in 1993, is now on top of the to-do list for Indianapolis mall developer Simon Property Group. Mall officials gathered the media Tuesday to show off paint chips, tile samples and renderings showing the 21-year-old food court freshened up, expanded by about 200 seats and more accommodating to shoppers equipped with mobile devices.
Management also promised updated mall entrances; new escalators to improve traffic flow; and a mix of new, renovated and repositioned retailers throughout the property. Most of the work will be done at night, mall manager Linda Accettulla said. “We want to transform this mall just in time for the holiday season.”
South Hills Village, which opened in the fall of 1964, is one of the region’s largest indoor shopping centers. It covers 1.1 million-square-feet over two levels and is settled into prime territory among the communities of Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and Scott.
For the past several years, the mall that pre-dated Century III Mall and the Mall at Robinson has been left behind by its sibling, Ross Park Mall, which is also owned by Simon Property Group.
In 2008, Ross Park landed the region’s only Nordstrom department store, setting off a transformation of the North Hills shopping center that helped draw in luxury retailers even through the recession.
Around the same time, South Hills Village lost anchor Boscov’s department store as the Reading, Pa.-based chain went through bankruptcy. That space has since been filled by Findlay retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which upgraded from a smaller store nearby, and by discount retailer Target.
The changes announced Tuesday did not include any major game changers, although officials said deals are in the works for some retailers that can’t be announced yet. In total, about 20 retailers are expected to be part of the overhaul — some coming in new to the shopping center, others moving or expanding.
New retailers coming this year include clothing stores Forever 21 and Lane Bryant, lingerie chain Soma and beauty retailer Ulta. Late last year, See’s Candies opened up shop, with Color Me Mine and Prima donna opening their doors this year. Johnston & Murphy will relocate, as will Dairy Queen. Kay Jewelers is being renovated.
The Sill family has some other names on the wish list -- Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Tiffany and Cheesecake Factory — all of which are available in the North Hills.
“The competition is Ross Park,” said Mr. Sill.
Ms. Accettula, who described her mall in prepared remarks as “the premier shopping destination in the South Hills,” recognizes the appeal of those brand names and, when asked, kept the door open for any interest from the Seattle department store chain. “We would love to have Nordstrom here,” she said, adding, “They’re a great retailer.”
Even without that kind of name to drop, local officials seem to believe the mall and its management have been invested in keeping the shopping center attractive.
“I was driving over here and thinking this is probably the third or fourth event I’ve been here for in the last few years at the mall,” said Bob Orchowski, Upper St. Clair commissioner.
Jack Allen, mayor of Bethel Park, noted that for residents of Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair, this is “the mall.”
Mr. Orchowski described South Hills Village as an economic engine for the area. “You must have hundreds of people that work here,” he said, then hearing a response, amended that remark. “Thousands.”
Teresa F. Lindeman: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-263-2018. First Published April 22, 2014 2:32 PM