NORTHWAY MALL
McKnight Road / US 19 and Babcock Boulevard
Allegheny County (Ross Township), Pennsylvania

The first fully-enclosed shopping mall in the Keystone State was built on a 29 acre plot, located 7.5 miles north of Pittsburgh's "Golden Triangle". The complex started out as the McKNIGHT SHOPPING CENTER, a single-level (55,000 square foot) strip plaza of seventeen stores, which had opened for business December 10, 1953.

In the early 1960s, Maryland's James W. Rouse Company purchased the strip center, enclosed it and added a fully-enclosed upper level. Designed by Victor Gruen Associates, Karl O. Van Leuven and Flannery & Associates, the 10 million dollar NORTHWAY MALL encompassed 394,000 leasable square feet. There were sixty-four store spaces and seven retail kiosks.

The complex was officially dedicated August 1, 1962, with Governor David L. Lawrence (D) cutting the ceremonial ribbon. NORTHWAY MALL, which featured the nation's third glass elevator, was anchored by a 2-level (170,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company. This operation, the fifth branch in the chain, stood on the south end of the mall and included a 20,000 square foot Budget Store.

Three tenants in the original strip center, F.W. Woolworth, Thrift Drug and Evie's Beauty Salon, moved into larger quarters within the newly-constructed mall section. The existing A & P was expanded and throroughly renovated. New stores in the mall included National Record Mart, Parklane Hosiery and Isaly's Ice Cream & Delicatessen.

The enclosed mallway corridor at NORTHWAY was landscaped with tropical foliage, which included tufted fishtail palms, India rubber trees, lady finger banana trees, fig vines and pygmy date palms.

NORTHWAY was the premier shopping center in Pittsburgh's "North Hills" area for several years. Its first commercial competition came when NORTH HILLS VILLAGE {.9 miles south} was rebuilt as an enclosed mall in 1976. In 1986, ROSS PARK MALL {.7 miles southwest} opened, which was a 1.2 million square foot, superregional center.

As its first competitive measure, NORTHWAY MALL was given a facelift renovation in 1979, which included new wooden paneling and interior landscaping. The A & P supermarket space, vacated in the spring of 1979, was rebuilt as a Carteret, New Jersey-based Herman's World of Sporting Goods. This store opened for business October 31, 1979.

Horne's downsized into a lower level Home Store in 1986. This was shuttered in mid-1987. By this time, the mall was in a state of decline. A new owner, the Dallas-based Southwest Corporation, embarked on a major renovation of the structure, which was completed -and dedicated- October 9, 1987.

The South Court had been opened up to the floor below, which had originally been occupied by the Horne's Budget Store. A 2-level Atrium was created. The G.C. Murphy space, vacated in December 1985, became the Super Saver Cinema 8. The first features were shown April 1, 1988.

Horne's 77,000 square foot upper level re-opened, as an Erie, Pennsylvania-based Dahlkemper's Catalog Showroom, October 9, 1987. The lower level, encompassing 73,500 square feet, was refashioned into a Columbus, Ohio-based Value City. It's grand opening was held November 25, 1988. The shopping hub now encompassed ninety stores and services.

A 2-level space at the front of the mall, originally leased as a Red Coach Restaurant and cocktail lounge, was rebuilt into an office level mezzanine and 7-bay Food Court in 1990. The original eateries were China Fan, Rax Roast Beef, The Covered Wagon, Chicken & Fries, Greek Deli and Mama Lucia's Pizzaria (a 1974 tenant that had relocated from a store on the mall's McKnight Level).

F.W. Woolworth, which had operated at the mall site since 1953, shuttered their store in January 1991. The building would sit vacant for 5 years. Herman's World Of Sporting Goods and Dahlkemper's folded in 1993. In June of that year, a 13.5 million dollar renovation was announced.

The empty Dahlkempers became a Dick's Sporting Goods in March 1994, with the vacant Herman's, on the Lower (McKnight) Level, being expanded into adjacent space. A Borders Books was dedicated April 21, 1995.

As these stores were established, the Upper Level mallway was being reconfigured. A new entry was cut through the existing Super Saver Cinema and the vacant Woolworth space was expanded southward. A new Marshalls opened there in 1994.

A mall corridor was also cut through previously existing store space adjacent to Marshalls. A new escalator linked this corridor with the Lower Level of the shopping hub. The renovated mall was officially re-dedicated May 4, 1995.

At the same time, the mall was being sold to Dallas-based MacNeil Real Estate. They flipped the property, with the Dallas-based Archon Group assuming ownership in May 2000. Only 5 months later, the mall was sold again. The buyer, known as Northway Limited Partners, was a joint venture of Pittsburgh's John McKinney and John Zemet.

At the turn of the century, the mall was still in a downward spiral that renovations in the late 1980s and mid-1990s had failed to reverse. It was decided to go with the current trend in retail and perform a partial demalling. A new name, SHOPPES AT NORTHWAY, was bestowed in late 2005, with demolition work getting underway in early 2007.

The cinema, shuttered January 21, 2007, was demolished, along with twelve adjacent stores on the Upper Level. In all, 58,000 square feet of Upper Level space was torn down, with the remaining stores opened to the adjacent parking lot. In essence, the mall was made into a "village environment"...a hybrid, enclosed and open-air shopping venue.

New tenants were signed, such as Shoe Carnival, Home Styles & More and The Kid Company, a family play center. An Aldi discount grocery opened, as an outparcel structure, November 8, 2007. Unfortunately, a severe economic downturn came along just as the renovation of the shopping hub was being completed. Value City, Old Navy, The Kid Company and Dress Barn were out of business by late 2008. Borders Books bit the dust September 13, 2011.

A new power center in the vicinity exacerbated the decline of SHOPPES AT NORTHWAY. The first phase of McCANDLESS CROSSING {1.1 mile north, in Allegheny County} was dedicated in November 2010. The new shopping venue eventually snatched the primary anchor of SHOPPES AT NORTHWAY. Dick's Sporting Goods shut its doors April 8, 2014.

Meanwhile, in early 2012, Northway LP defaulted on their mall loan. The complex was bought out of bankruptcy in December 2012. Its new owner, Akron, Ohio's LRC Realty, acquired an adjacent property (formerly an elementary school) and were working on incorporating it into the plan for a renewed shopping hub, to be known as NORTHWAY COLLECTION.

In March 2015, an alternate name, THE BLOCK NORTHWAY, was announced. Rumor had it that Washington State's Costco was coming on board, but this didn't pan out. However, Nordstrom Rack and The Container Store were eventually confirmed as future tenants of the prospective 467,800 square foot power center.

Nordstrom Rack opened their (40,000 square foot) store at THE BLOCK on August 26, 2016. A (36,000 square foot) Container Store began business October 13 of the same year. Existing mall tenants Marshalls and PetSmart have been joined by new J. Crew Mercantile, Ulta Beauty, Saks Off Fifth and DSW stores.

Sources:

"Northway Mall" article on Wikipedia
"Joseph Horne Company" article on Wikipedia
"Ross Park Mall" article on Wikipedia
"Dahlkemper's" article on Wikipedia
http://www.mckinneyproperties.com
shoppesatnorthway.com
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Press
Yournorthhills.com / November 1, 2006 / Jeff Fuller, staff writer
http://cranberry.patch.com/articles/nearby-connection-the-key-to-redeveloping-northway-mall
http://theblocknorthway.com