Jason Ilyes' Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

Northway Mall, in Ross Township, north of Pittsburgh, is today viewed as a rather insignificant mid-sized mall. This has however, not always been the case. When Northway Mall first opened its doors on August 1, 1962, it ushered in history as the first indoor mall in the state of Pennsylvania. The mall also housed two unique features when it opened, a large bird cage serving as a popular attraction, and a glass enclosed elevator. While glass elevators are very common in malls today, the one in Northway Mall was the third such elevator in the country. The birdcage was removed in 1994.

Northway began life as Northway Shopping Center, a strip mall built in 1953. The lower level is the original strip mall enclosed, with the remainder of the mall being later construction.

Original anchors included Horne's, Woolworth, G.C. Murphy, and A&P. A&P was replaced by Herman's in the 1980s. The mall thrived from 1962 to August 1986, when it was the only enclosed mall north of Pittsburgh. When Ross Park Mall opened, Northway began to lose appeal. Horne's and Murphy's left in 1988; the former had opened at Ross Park Mall in 1987 but had operated both stores for some time. The former Horne's was purchased by Dahlkemper's, which remained there until the chain's bankruptcy in 1993. Murphy's was filled with a discount movie theater, later purchased by National Amusements and converted to a new release cinema. Woolworth left in 1991 and the space sat vacant until 1996, when Marshall's moved in. Dick's Sporting Goods bought the old Dahlkemper's space and moved in around 1994. Herman's went out in 1992, and Borders expanded the location and opened in 1995.

A food court was added in 1990 and enjoyed little success, with Rax being the only national chain. Today it holds only two eaterys, locally-owned Mama Lucia Pizza and an African food stand.

The mall's exterior was heavily retooled in 1994, and the interior received some treatment as well.

After declining through the late 80's and early 90's, Northway Mall was renovated in the mid 90's. Today the mall is once again in decline, with many of its lots empty. The mall still retains all of its anchor locations however, and hosts such stores as Value City, Dick's Sporting Goods, Borders Books and Music, Old Navy and Marshall's.

John Moretti's Commentary

Posted April 20, 2017 (user submitted)

New Life:

The property was acquired in a foreclosure sheriff sale in early 2012 by Jefferson-Pilot Investments Inc. of Greensboro, NC. It exchanged hands again in November 2012 when Akron Ohio developer, Levey & Co., purchased The Shoppes at Northway along with the vacant Northway Elementary School property next door. Levey successfully had the six acre vacant school next door rezoned from residential to commercial by the township. The school building was demolished and integrated into a plan to expand and redevelop the existing mall. The mall's tenants in 2012 included Dick's Sporting Goods, Marshalls, PetSmart, Shoe Carnival, Aldi, Mamma Lucia restaurant, a T-shirt shop Rock America, Premier Imaging, and Northway Shoes & Repair (which is the longest running tenant at the mall).

Conversion to The Block at Northway:

In June of 2015 the Ross Township zoning hearing board approved five variances for the development and allowed a temporary sign on McKnight, proclaiming “We got our mojo back.” The goal was an upgraded retail development, which would include the region’s first Nordstrom Rack. A Costco had been proposed for land behind the mall, but the proposal was withdrawn because they could not make the site work. The new owner, Levey & Co., was only able to reach agreements with three Northway tenants —Marshall’s, PetSmart, and Fox & Hound Sports Tavern. The last tenant of the former Northway Mall that did not reach a lease agreement with the new owners was Northway Shoes & Repair, who had been at the mall for 30 years. They would move to a new location several miles away.

Construction got underway in August of 2015 at the former Northway Mall to begin its “conversion” and redevelopment into the Block at Northway in Ross Township. Construction on the north end of the mall allowed PetSmart to move from the first floor of the former mall facing the front to the upper side of the mall next to Marshall’s. Marshall’s at the same time was undergoing renovations to its store. The developer also worked on grading, storm water, and parking improvements to the site.

By late 2015 The Block Northway confirmed that the region’s first Nordstrom Rack would join existing tenants Marshall’s, PetSmart, and Fox & Hound. The 40,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack store opened in 2016 and is the retailer’s second store in the area. Nordstrom has a department store at nearby Ross Park Mall.

Current State:

2016 brought a number of new tenants that have transformed the very first enclosed mall in the state of Pennsylvania, from old, outdated and on the verge of becoming a true dead mall, to a new, vibrant, destination mall once again. New stores include The Container Store, Saks Off 5th, J Crew Mercantile, DSW Shoes, Ulta, and Aldi. Corelife Eatery, and CB Cyclebar came aboard, and Kirklands and Basset are soon to open. Other potential tenants being mentioned are Neiman Marcus Last Call, Old Navy, and Nike.

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