SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE
Washington Road / US 19 and Fort Couch Road
Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

The first enclosed shopping complex in the environs of Pennsylvania's "Iron City", NORTHWAY MALL, was a rebuild of a 1953-vintage strip center. Pittsburgh's first retail hub built as a fully-enclosed structure was situated on an 85 acre tract, 7.5 miles south of the "Golden Triangle".

SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE straddled the corporate limits of suburban Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair. It was designed by Los Angeles-based Welton Becket & Associates and Victor Gruen Associates, with additional input from Pittsburgh-based Hoffman, Loeffler & Wolfe.

The 2-level complex was built by Pittsburgh-based Don-Mark Realty, which later became Oxford Development. Its official grand opening was held July 28, 1965. Encompassing approximately 1,137,000 leasable square feet, SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE was anchored by a 2-level (169,300 square foot) Gimbels-Pittsburgh, 2-level (193,000 square foot), Pittsburgh-based Joseph Horne Company and 2-level (146,000 square foot) Sears.

Charter tenants included Lerner Shops, Pup-A-Go-Go, Sun Drug, and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10, with Harvest House Cafeteria. A & P and Giant Eagle supermarkets were located in a western Convenience Center annex. In all, there were eighty-two stores and services. The single-screen Stanley-Warner South Hills Theatre was built as an eastern outparcel. It was dedicated July 19, 1966.

Retail rivals included CENTURY III MALL (1979) {5.6 miles east, in West Mifflin} and the upscale GALLERIA OF MOUNT LEBANON (1964 / 1988) {.8 mile north, in Mount Lebanon}. There was also PARKWAY CENTER MALL (1982) {5.4 miles north, in Pittsburgh proper}, but this was a much smaller, community-class complex.

Lastly, mention of VILLAGE SQUARE (1982) {.3 mile northeast, in Bethel Park} might be in order. This bi-level, fully-enclosed complex, originally a mini-outlet shopping hub, was demalled, into various big box stores, in 1997.

SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE joined the ranks of America's rail transit-adjacent shopping malls with the completion of the 10.5 mile, "Stage 1" T SUBWAY line, which opened in July 1985. The mall's southeast parking lot adjoins the South Hills Village station, the southern terminus of the Via Beechview LRT.

Gimbels became the first anchor in SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE to change hands. The store was shuttered in 1986. It was renovated and expanded (to 254,000 square feet) with a third level. It re-opened, as a Pittsburgh-based Kaufmann's, August 13, 1987. The mall now encompassed 1,087,400 leasable square feet.

After the Kaufmann's chain was absorbed by Federated Stores in 2005, the SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE location was sold to Reading, Pennsylvania-based Boscov's. They opened August 26, 2006 and closed in October 2008.

The Joseph Horne Company ceased operations after its 1994 Federated Stores buyout. The SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE store was expanded with a third level (to 277,700 square feet). It re-opened, under the Columbus, Ohio-based Lazarus nameplate, October 20, 1995. It was rebranded as Lazarus-Macy's in 2003 and fully "Macy-ated" in February 2005.

SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE had been renovated during the 1990s. The first phase of a mall-wide facelift, costing 15 million dollars, was completed in July 1993. Restyled entrances were installed, along with new ceilings, skylights, landscaping and marble flooring. The Center Court received a new escalator and glass elevator.

The second phase of the renovation, completed in late 1994, entailed construction of a 14-bay Food Court, which was built in front of the Upper Level Main Entrance. It added approximately 21,600 square feet to the shopping center's GLA.

By this time, the mall had become one of the more upscale shopping centers in the metro area. It was acquired by the Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group in 1997. The original cinema, made into a 5-screen venue in 1982, closed in August 1997. It was razed and replaced, by a 10-screen Carmike, in July 1998.

A subsequent addition to SOUTH HILLS VILLAGE brought a 28,000 square foot Barnes & Noble, which was built as a northeast parking area outparcel. It opened in April 2005. With this addition, the mall encompassed 1,137,000 leasable square feet, with one hundred and thirty stores and services.

In November 2009, it was postulated that the vacant Gimbels / Kaufmann's / Boscov's was to be renovated and retenanted. According to plans, 145,000 square feet on an expanded lower level would become a Target, with 88,400 square foot on two upper levels housing a new Dick's Sporting Goods (replacing the 31,500 square foot store in the mall's Convenience Center outparcel).

The Simon Property Group purchased the vacant Boscov's structure in September 2010. Reconstruction work was delayed but finally got underway in May 2012. The grand opening of the vertically-stacked Target and Dick's Sporting Goods took place March 10, 2013. The mall now housed 1,196,000 leasable square feet.

In April 2014, an interior-exterior facelift renovation got underway. The Food Court was remodeled, with its seating area expanded. New mall entrances and escalators were installed and several tenants either renovated their spaces or moved to new locations within the complex. The project was finished in November 2014.

Sources:

"South Hills Village" article on Wikipedia
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.portauthority.org
Comment post by "Mr. Moderate"