Could The Mall At Steamtown Reinvent Itself With An Open-Air Market Atmosphere?

SCRANTON, PA — The Mall at Steamtown hasn’t exactly been running at full power lately.

But a couple of brothers have gone to social media to pitch an idea to put more firepower in the ailing mall, and the public is starting to take notice.

Scranton natives Michael Boyd and his brother George think creating a marketplace similar to the long-standing Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia could be the key to the city’s revitalization.

The downward spiral of the once-vibrant downtown mall has been apparent in recent years. A walk through the two-story structure on Lackawanna Avenue last week showed 47 active store fronts and 23 shuttered ones.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/business/151922265/

RadioShack On Brink Of Bankruptcy; Amazon, Sprint In Talks To Buy Stores, Reports Say

RadioShack Corp. is edging toward bankruptcy and both Sprint Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. are interested in buying some of its stores, according to reports.

Under a bankruptcy deal, the century-old electronics retailer would sell about half of its store leases to Sprint Corp., headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, and close the rest, Bloomberg.com reported Monday. The remaining stores would operate with the wireless carrier’s name, meaning RadioShack would cease to exist as a stand-alone retailer.

“Sprint and RadioShack also have discussed co-branding the stores. … It’s also possible that another bidder could emerge that would buy RadioShack and keep it operating,” the report says

Sanpower Group, one of the China-based firms that brought gadget retailer Brookstone out of bankruptcy with the intent of operating it as a stand-alone brand, has expressed interest in RadioShack, too.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/02/radioshack_on_brink_of_bankrup.html

“Malls Have Been A Dying Thing For Us”: Who’ll Replace RadioShack?

Radio Shack has been trying to close more than 1,000 of its 5,000 stores for the past year; its lenders are resisting; bankruptcy threatens.

Meantime other retailers are weighing whether Radio Shack sites — 29 in Philadelphia and its nearby suburbs, a total of 130 from Wilmington to Princeton, each about 2,000-2,700 sq ft — would make good lunch spots, phone stores, massage salons.

“We have a lease” to take over a Philadelphia-area Radio Shack — he won’t say which, it’s still open — and are negotiating for others in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, and Austin, Tex., Todd Leff, CEO of Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spas, a 200-store franchise chain based in Hamilton Township, N.J., told me.  Hand and Stone says it has 35 locations in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey, and plans up to 15 more. Each store employs 30, including therapists and aestheticians for massage and skin care. Hour-long treatments cost $49-99.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Malls-have-been-a-dying-thing-for-us-Wholl-replace-RadioShack.html#i6EFp5ErOlAswsiP.99

Plans To Transform Underperforming Burlington Mall

Over the next two to three months, officials in Burlington Township will be getting architectural and civil engineering drawings of what the new Marketplace at Burlington – formerly Burlington Center Mall – will look like, as well as a count of the traffic it is hoped it will generate.

By mid-spring of next year, owner Moonbeam Capital Investments L.L.C. of Las Vegas says, groundbreaking will begin to convert the underperforming mall into a must-see destination off Exit 47A of I-295 for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

If all goes as planned, the $230 million-plus phased conversion will also include manicured green spaces with benches and fountains that seamlessly tie a traditional mall with an open-air town center.

The full build-out is expected to take from two to three years and will be done in stages. The mall will stay open the entire time.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150124_Plans_to_transform_underperforming_Burlington_mall.html#ryTRJvJqSdssWhue.99

Costco, Whole Foods Shopping Center Tenant Roster Almost Full; Project Set For Spring 2016 Opening

LOWER MACUNGIE TOWNSHIP, PA – The Hamilton Crossings tenant roster is almost full, project developers Tim Harrison and Jeremy Fogel said Tuesday.

Nearly 100 percent of the retail and restaurant space available at the 570,000-square-foot shopping center has been leased, they said during a presentation organized by Commercial Real Estate Women Network Lehigh Valley.

“There are people that, personally, I’d like to fit, but we just don’t have the room,” said Harrison, of Staten Island, N.Y.

The Lower Macungie Township complex will feature several Lehigh Valley firsts — Costco, Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s Rack — but declined to name retailers or restaurants that have not previously been announced.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/lehigh-county/index.ssf/2015/01/hamilton_crossings_lower_macun.html

Target Aiming To Build Small Center City Stores

For years, landlords tried to coax Target to open one of its big-box stores in the heart of Philadelphia. Each time they failed, daunted by the difficulty of plunking a store the size of two football fields into a packed downtown.

That chase appears to have come to an end, with a much smaller version called Target Express now looking to make a splash at multiple locations in the hottest pockets of redevelopment near Philadelphia’s core.

Target Corp. is hunting for lease deals in Center City and University City to build what could be as many as four of the new stores, which are about one-sixth the size of a suburban Target.

The goal is to bring the brand to the very Baby Boomers and young professionals who became loyal customers in the suburbs, but who increasingly are moving into resurgent central Philadelphia.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150109_Target_aiming_to_build_small_Center_City_stores.html#jQsGpabPqVtiiwUp.99

Monroeville Mall Quieter Today After Friday Night Fracas

No trouble was reported as of this afternoon at the Monroeville Mall, which reopened today under heightened police watch after a series of fights broke among 1,000-plus teenagers and young adults Friday night, prompting the facility to close early.

Two injuries not believed to be life-threatening were reported in the skirmishes that began on the first floor and moved upstairs, startling shoppers on the day after Christmas and drawing police from multiple communities. Authorities expected to cite at least one for disorderly conduct, in addition to a pair of arrests made earlier Friday over a domestic dispute.

Monroeville Police Chief K. Douglas Cole said today he knew of no connection between the disturbance at the mall in his community and problems reported Friday in at least two other malls elsewhere in the nation.

Some mall stores within Independence Center in Independece, Mo., were locked down Friday night after several hundred youths congregated inside, with some fights breaking out, The Kansas City Star reported.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2014/12/27/Monroeville-Mall-quieter-today-after-Friday-night-fracas/stories/201412270116

South Bethlehem Complex Of 110 Luxury Apartments, Offices And Stores To Start In Spring With Authority Approval

The developer of Bethlehem’s first City Revitalization and Improvement Zone project got approval Thursday to proceed with a second project.

BethWorks Renovations’ three-building complex of 110 luxury apartments, offices and retail space will flank its first project, a distillery called Social Still slatted to open on East Third Street as early as this weekend, the developer said.

Construction on Greenway Commons, as the three-building complex is called, will follow starting in March, said Rob de Beer, the development director for Peron Development, a BethWorks-affiliated company. The company plans to start construction on the two retail-and-apartment buildings in March with the retail-and-office building starting as soon as a nearby garage the complex plans to use for parking is underway, de Beer said.

The complex will be built atop three parking lots across from Northampton Community College. BethWorks bought the lots from the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. in 2004, de Beer said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/12/south_bethlehem_complex_of_110.html

No Holiday Cheer At The Philadelphia Gallery

MOHAMMAD HOSSAIN has sold jewelry from his Gold Center kiosk in the Gallery mall on East Market Street for 10 years, and yesterday he wore a weary expression.

Despite the holiday season, Hossain and other merchants weren’t feeling cheerful. PREIT, the owner of the Gallery, has told them to vacate by either Dec. 31 or Jan. 31.

PREIT has plans to redevelop the Gallery, which means the stores and kiosks will be moved out for at least a year.

George Thomas, who has operated a jewelry kiosk there for 20 years, said merchants are angry.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141214_No_holiday_cheer_at_the_Gallery.html#4y8Ur2uzxQh6rLqw.99

Boscov ‘Donates’ $700,000 To Scranton To Make Good On Mall Loan

Al Boscov gave Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright a check today for $715,173, to make good on a loan the city had given years ago to The Mall at Steamtown that went unpaid.

Calling the check a “donation” from Boscov’s Department Stores to the city, Mr. Boscov said he felt obligated to pay the loan back even though neither he nor his company is legally on the hook to do so.

The donation check is intended to replace a $612,480 loan that the city gave to the former mall owner in 2001 from federal funds that the city receives, as well as $102,693 in interest.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/boscov-donates-700-000-to-scranton-to-make-good-on-mall-loan-1.1795802

Downtown Bethlehem Association Creates App For One-Stop-Shopping For Restaurants, Stores And Parking

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Downtown Bethlehem? There’s an app for that.

The Downtown Bethlehem Association on Wednesday debuted its new app that puts information about local attractions, restaurants, stores, hotels, parking and events all in one place.

“It’s a way for allow people to find things in Bethlehem all in one place – on their smartphone,” said DBA President Neville Gardner, who owns Donegal Square and McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar at Main and West Walnut streets. “Bethlehem may be a historic town, but we’re definitely in the next millennium.”

The association has been working to develop the app for more than two years, Gardner said. Smartphones are increasingly being used in making plans, officials noted.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/11/downtown_bethlehem_association_2.html

PhillyDeals: Expansion Planned At King Of Prussia Plaza And Court

King of Prussia Mall

King of Prussia Mall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simon Property Group, the Indianapolis-based retail giant that owns 200-plus shopping malls nationwide, is sacrificing more than 400 parking spaces at its King of Prussia Plaza and Court to make room for at least 50 new stores and restaurants that it hopes will draw more wealthy shoppers to the region’s biggest retail complex.

At extra-large shopping centers such as King of Prussia, at least, “the mall business is good, contrary to some of the naysayers,” David Contis, president of Simon Malls and a corporate senior vice president, told me Monday.

His company bought out other investors to take control of the King of Prussia mall in 2011, in deals that valued the complex at over $1 billion.

Contis said he expected to attract luxury stores from outside the region and “the best of the Philadelphia eateries” to the new space, rather than shifting current tenants there.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20141118_PhillyDeals__Expansion_planned_at_King_Of_Prussia_Plaza_and_Court.html#4mWT6geTQWCWiwR1.99

Dilapidated Buildings Hinder Greensburg Downtown Growth

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaky roofs and outdated structures are one big reason why about 20 percent of downtown Greensburg storefronts are vacant, despite businesses clamoring to move in, according to the Greensburg Community Development Corp.

The nonprofit plans to purchase four of the dilapidated buildings within the next year, and pursue private and public grants to fix them up and resell them to private owners, said Steven Gifford, its executive director.

Downtown real estate is in demand, with more businesses wanting to move into storefronts than there is space available, according to Gifford. Despite this, about one-fifth of the city’s 138 storefronts remain vacant, often because they are too run down or unsafe to occupy.

The development corporation has identified seven buildings with leaking roofs, and another five that cannot be occupied because of building code deficiencies, such as missing sprinkler systems and staircases.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/7098524-74/buildings-gifford-owners#ixzz3J9lEs6Fm
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Bottom Dollar Food Stores To Close By Year’s End And Be Sold To Aldi

The Belgium-based owner of Bottom Dollar Food stores plans to close its 66 store locations in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia markets and sell the assets to discount food competitor Aldi Inc. for about $15 million.

Aldi said the purchase is part of an expansion plan that will add 650 stores nationwide by the end of 2018.

Delhaize Group of Brussels said all stores are expected to remain open as Bottom Dollar Food stores until yearend. After that, banner will be retired. The sale of stores and leases to Aldi is expected to be completed by March 31.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7104718-74/aldi-stores-bottom#ixzz3ILGhsZ8R
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South Bethlehem Historic Board Approves 9-Story Building After Previously Panning It

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After voicing strong opposition last month to a proposed 9-story building on West Fourth Street, the South Bethlehem Historic Conservation District voted 5-2 Monday to support the building’s design.

District board Chairwoman Beth Starbuck said she had been very troubled by the building’s height until she realized Hotel Bethlehem also was nine stories and doesn’t stick out badly on Main Street.

“I’m not happy with the scale of this, either, but I’m less freaked out about it — it just never occurred to me that the Hotel Bethlehem is that tall,” she said.

The board makes recommendations to Bethlehem City Council, and board Historic Officer Christine Ussler said there’s a fear if the board is often overruled by council “this developer and other developers will get the sense we don’t count.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/10/south_bethlehem_historic_board.html

Sears At Pittsburgh Mills Mall In Frazer Closing In January

Pittsburgh Mills

Pittsburgh Mills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  First Century III, now Pittsburgh Mills

The Sears store and Auto Center at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills mall will close in mid-January, a spokesman for Sears Holdings confirmed this morning.

The closing is part of the company’s strategy to reduce expenses and speed up the transformation of their business model, said company spokesman Howard Riefs.

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourallekiskivalley/yourallekiskivalleymore/6975322-74/sears-store-mills#ixzz3GLaaXyie
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Bon-Ton To Close Two Of Its Stores

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. is shuttering two of its stores, citing low sales, the company said in a news release.

The Bon-Ton store in the Clearview Mall in Butler, Pennsylvania and the Elder-Beerman store in the Raleigh Mall in Beckley, West Virginia will close before January 31, 2015, when their respective leases end. Approximately 38 employees at the Clearview Mall Bon-Ton and 39 at the Raleigh Mall Elder-Beerman will lose their jobs, the press release said.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_26679132/bon-ton-shuttering-two-stores

Columbus Provides Blueprint For How To Develop Mellon Arena Site

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We love it when folks use existing successful business models for a blueprint. Why reinvent the wheel when a tweak will due :)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — About $1 billion in development around an arena primarily for hockey transformed a dreary section of downtown Columbus that used to be an industrial area and home to a run-down prison.

“People didn’t come downtown very often, and they certainly didn’t live here. Things are different now. This is a place to be,” said Sherri Lyle, 44, of suburban Powell, who works in Columbus’ 14-year-old Arena District.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are paying attention. The team is preparing to develop a 28-acre site where the Civic Arena stood, across Centre Avenue from the $321 million Consol Energy Center that opened in 2010.

“We’ve sat down and talked with them several times about what they have done relative to development,” said Penguins Chief Operating Officer Travis Williams, noting the team studied similar projects in Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose, Washington and Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6881016-74/arena-district-area#ixzz3FOBkt9TK
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New Plans For South Bethlehem Apartments, Stores And Offices Submitted

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A developer has submitted new plans for three buildings that will include stores, offices and apartments across from the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. site in Bethlehem.

Developer BethWorks Renovations has submitted plans for one five-story and two four-story buildings along East Third Street across from Northampton Community College.The company’s previous plans for the site called for one five-story and two three-story buildings, but its total of 111 apartments remains the same.

The company’s new plans are scheduled to go before the Bethlehem Planning Commission 4 p.m. Thursday.

BethWorks’ five-story building would be located at 422-430 E. Third St., which is on the corner of Fillmore Street. It’s proposed to have first-floor retail space and 96 apartments.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/10/new_plans_for_south_bethlehem.html