This started the downward trend, and eventually the mall sought to change course by bringing in big box retailers to bring business back. The old Sears space was split between Media Play and Phar-Mor's concept Pharmhouse store. The food court was made smaller by the addition of a Service Merchandise store in the front of the mall. The by then closed Hess's store became a Burlington Coat Factory. Other stores such as Old Navy, Bob's Stores, Office Max and others filled the mall.
This too proved unsuccessful as many of the stores closed due to bankruptcy or moved to betters digs. Smaller stores that were still there saw the writing on the wall and pulled out. The mall soon became a vacant hulk where people went to just walk around, see a cheap movie at the theater, or go to Kmart.
By February of 2008 the mall was closed and eventually sold. The new developers, Vornado Realty Trust came up with a plan to refurbish the property, and you guessed it, a strip mall would take its place. Everything from the hallway back was kept, and the hallway, former Service Merchandise and Media Play and the rest of the mall space in between was demolished. Everything that was left was gutted in preparation for new stores. Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory and the theaters were kept, as well as the former Price Chopper turned Shoprite.
It's been pretty successful so far. Christmas Tree Shops and Bob's Discount Furniture have taken up shop, and a Hobby Lobby store, one of the first in New York State, has recently opened. There are many more spots for stores to come in. And the former hallway leading to Burlington Coat Factory will make a nice lifestlye section. Surely restaurants, smaller shops, and bigger name stores will make the new South Hills Mall home.
Above and below are pictures taken October 13th, 2009. The two comparison shots above show first the main entrance area of the mall as it appeared in February 2008 and again in the present day. The second set shows the hallway leading to Burlington Coat Factory as it appeared in February 2008 and again in the present day.
I hope to one day do a historical retrospective of the mall and post more pictures that I have of the mall. If anyone has any older pictures and/or articles related to and of the mall when it was in its heyday and would want them shared on the website, please don't hesitate to contact me. All of my contact information can be found by clicking either the links to the deadmalls.com pages or my personal profile page. Enjoy the pictures!