HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – People around Hermitage are hoping a new company managing the Shenango Valley Mall will bring big changes.
Shopping at the Shenango Valley Mall is a whole new experience.
“It’s quiet,” said Harry Mars, 83, of New Castle. “Not like it used to be.”
Mars remembers the mall being built in the 1960s — a perfect location at the county’s busiest intersection. The parking lot would be full at Christmastime.
Fifty years later, it’s quiet. Two main anchors — Sears and Macy’s — closed their stores last year.
“I mean, there’s some strong-performing businesses still in the mall but really, we need to see something happen to see it realize its full potential,” said Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson.
Kelley Boatwright, of Farrell, said the mall is in a sad state.
“We’re trying to remain positive, trying to provide our customers with the best experience we can when they do walk through the door, but we definitely feel a decline in traffic.”
The land the mall sits on is owned by the McConnell family. The owner of the Shenango Valley Mall defaulted on a loan and the lender foreclosed.
Store owners have been told a new management company is coming in to operate.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that’s a good thing,” Hinkson said. “That there’s some movement now and somebody will be identified, either in the short or longer term, that the city can work with.”
It’s all about seeing the mall become a vibrant place for activity again. Any increase in foot traffic would be a help.
But getting that may not be all about shopping. The city hopes somebody has an idea to rejuvenate the corner of Hermitage Road and State Street.
“We have to make improvements so retailers will want to come in here,” Boatwright said.
“We don’t control anything, but we have some tools in our toolbox that would allow us to help support or assist a developer who has plans,” Hinkson said.
The city and school district are appealing a decision that lowered the mall’s property assessment by 60 percent. They felt that was too big of a reduction.