From Glory to Ruin: The Tale of Parkway Center Mall in Pittsburgh, PA

The Birth of Parkway Center Mall

Nestled a few minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Parkway Center Mall once stood as a beacon of retail splendor. Opening its doors on November 4, 1982, it was a symbol of modernity and convenience.

Developed by Kossman Development, the mall was home to various anchor stores, including Giant Eagle, Thrift Drug, Gold Circle, Zayre, and a David Weis catalog showroom.

The mall’s original tenants were a mix of famous brands and local favorites, catering to a broad audience. From fashion to electronics, Parkway Center Mall had something for everyone.

Parkway Center Mall in 2016, before the demolition

An exit from Interstate 376 was constructed to serve the mall, reflecting its significance in the region. This strategic location made it accessible and attractive to shoppers from near and far.

Beyond being a shopping destination, the mall became a gathering place for the community. It was a hub where families and friends met, shopped, dined, and created lasting memories.

Changes and Challenges

The early years of Parkway Center Mall were marked by growth and transformation. However, changes were not always smooth. The mall faced its share of challenges, some of which were unique.

In 1986, Gold Circle became Kmart, a change followed by a foundation shift resulting in a crack in the floor. Though addressed with steel plates, this incident hinted at underlying structural issues.

The late ’80s and early ’90s saw stores like Zayre and David Weis close. New businesses emerged in their place, reflecting the mall’s adaptability and shifting retail landscape.

The mall’s building had foundation problems that caused it to shake. Vibrations were sometimes felt, attributed to truck traffic passing by on the nearby Interstate. These issues were more than mere inconveniences; they were signs of deeper problems that would eventually contribute to the mall’s decline.

Decline and Closure

The turn of the century marked a decline for Parkway Center Mall. Once bustling with activity, the mall began to lose its luster, and vacancies started to appear.

By the early 2000s, significant stores like Syms, Phar-Mor, and CompUSA had closed. These closures left gaping holes in the mall’s retail landscape, impacting foot traffic and overall appeal.

By 2006, the mall was largely vacant. Tenants were consolidated to the second floor, and the once-vibrant atmosphere had faded.

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Kmart’s announcement of its closure in late 2012 was the final blow. The last day of operation was January 6, 2013, and the remaining tenants soon followed suit. Once a symbol of prosperity, the mall had closed its doors for good.

Parkway Center Mall Demolition

The story of Parkway Center Mall did not end with its closure. The mall’s physical structure underwent significant changes, reflecting the passage of time and the evolution of the community’s needs.

In August 2016, the demolition process commenced at the mall, signaling the conclusion of a significant chapter and the dawn of a new phase. While most of the mall was razed, the Giant Eagle building remained intact, along with the unoccupied space that once housed Kmart, as a solitary reminder of the past.

The demolition of Parkway Center Mall was more than a physical act; it was a symbol of change, a reflection of the shifting needs and preferences of the community.

Recent Developments

As of 2023, the site of Parkway Center Mall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, remains in the same condition after the demolition in 2016. Only Giant Eagle supermarket and pharmacy are working in the former mall spot.

The absence of new plans or developments for the site adds to the nostalgia and loss surrounding the mall’s story. The empty area of the mall continues to evoke memories of the past, reflecting the dynamic and often unpredictable nature of retail and community spaces.

While the future of the Parkway Center Mall site remains uncertain, its legacy continues to resonate with those who remember its heyday.

The mall’s story is not just about retail; it’s a narrative of community, change, and the passage of time. Though quiet and unchanging, the site continues to hold a special place in the hearts of many in Pittsburgh.

Conclusion

Parkway Center Mall‘s legacy is rich and multifaceted. From its birth as a modern shopping destination to its decline and closure, the mall’s story reflects broader societal trends and the ever-changing nature of community needs.

For many, Parkway Center Mall is a place of nostalgia, a reminder of times spent with loved ones, shopping sprees, and shared experiences.

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