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North Hills Monthly

New Shopping Opportunities Abound at The Block Northway

Dec 01, 2016 07:39AM ● By Erica Cebzanov

The Block Northway, formerly known as Northway Mall, is offering Pittsburghers a new holiday shopping destination.

The Ross Township redevelopment includes existing tenants Marshalls, PetSmart, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses and Aldi along with new offerings Nordstrom Rack, The Container Store, Saks OFF 5th, DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, J. Crew Mercantile and Ulta Beauty. When completed in summer 2017, the property will feature approximately 20 shops and restaurants.

“We purposely sought tenants new to the Pittsburgh market that fit the brand of offering fashionable merchandise at very well-positioned prices,” said LRC Realty Owner and President Frank Licata, whose Akron, Ohio-based firm owns the project. While not at liberty to disclose lessees in the process of finalizing agreements, he said a Core Life Eatery healthy food franchise is slated to open in the future. 

LRC is also developing plans for the development’s second phase, a possible mixed-use space consisting of additional retail and dining properties and multi-family housing on the former Northway Elementary School grounds. 

Past and Future

Northway Mall opened in 1953 as an open-air shopping center and underwent renovations to become Pennsylvania’s first enclosed mall in 1962, according to Licata, who added that the shopping center also featured a birdcage and mezzanine level with medical offices.

Over the years, various owners sold and renovated the property. Despite the changes, the mall could not live up to the success of its heyday; Licata estimated that approximately 70 percent of the center was vacant when LRC purchased it from Jefferson-Pilot Investments Inc. in 2012.

“It didn’t really thrive as a conventional mall, having your typical double-sided concourse with tenants on each side and anchors at one end,” he explained. “The loss of tenants Value City and Borders Books and Music was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Nonetheless, Licata, who had done previous business in the area, loved the location and felt like it had a lot of potential. He specifically cited the local population’s demographics and proximity to the McKnight Road-Babcock Boulevard intersection as assets.

He also values The Block’s juxtaposition to Ross Park Mall. “I could see us very much as partners and working together and benefitting from each other’s existence,” he said.

In 2014, LRC started renovations, which involved optimizing the limited space along McKnight Road. “One of our strategies was to convince Nordstrom Rack and Saks OFF 5th to take two-level locations to give them a presence on McKnight Road that would not take up as much ground level space as if they did a single location,” Licata explained.

Licata said LRC also wanted to take advantage of the parking lots’ layouts to develop easily navigable ways for guests to maneuver throughout the mall.

“We worked quite hard to make sure that it all would make sense and that it all would be easy to use and be something that the tenants would embrace,” he said. Upon completion, The Block will add additional underground parking with possible valet service. 

CUPKOVIC Architecture LLC of Cleveland designed the property’s sleek palette of grays and dark woods, and The Block Northway upgraded the site’s infrastructure, including an up-to-date storm water management system that will reduce storm water peak flow by more than 50 percent.  n

For more information about the mall, visit 

www.theblocknorthway.com or www.facebook.com/TheBlockNorthway.