The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer Township sold at a foreclosure auction Wednesday morning for the frankly amazing price of $100.
Obviously, many malls are struggling nowadays, as customers move online for most of their shopping needs. Still, at one point, Pittsburgh Mills was valued at $193 million dollars. It opened in 2005, making it the “newest” mall in Western Pennsylvania.
Of course, it’s going to keep operating as a mall, perhaps for a long time yet. It was purely a legal transaction; Wells Fargo was the only bidder.
But . . . if you had $100 to burn, what would you do with a 1.1 million-square-foot mall?
Just for the fun of it, here are a few ideas:
1). World’s largest Dek Hockey rink. On the roof, of course.
2.) “Dawn of the Dead Experience:” Flee through a replica of Monroeville Mall, circa 1979, like in the George Romero classic. Enjoy your remaining hours as fast food for the lurching hordes, as you adapt to period-authentic novelties like an indoor ice rink and gun shop.
3.) Museum of Obsolete Retail and the American Middle Class. If jingles like “Hills is where the toys are,” cause you to break into uncontrollable sobs, you might be in the market for this nostalgic monument to simpler days. “Kids, there was once a time when we had so much free time, that we’d just stroll around the mall for fun.”
4.) “The Vast, Voluminous Vapetorium.” The fastest-growing retail category in Pittsburgh, aside from maybe brewpubs, has got to be vape shops. The demand seems to be unlimited for flavored smoke alternatives and bad vape puns. Why not attract the next wave of dubiously-titled shops (Vape Ape, The Vapist, etc.), before the trend goes up in smoke?
5.) “The Isaly’s Chip-Chopped Ham Pittsburgh Nostalgia-Industrial Complex:” “Things That Aren’t There Anymore” could go . . . here. There’s room for working replicas of Luna Park, Forbes Field, Wylie Avenue and enough skyscraper cones to make all Rick Sebak’s dreams come true.
6.) Western Pennsylvania’s biggest hydroponic marijuana farm. Malls’ harsh, fluorescent lighting is designed to make shoppers lose track of time, lost in an endless fever-dream of shopping bliss. So, like, you could probably use it to grow lots of weed. Each strain with a silly name could get its own storefront . . .
7.) 10,000 micro-loft-apartments. For those transplanted Uber/Google engineers who can’t be bothered to Google Pittsburgh’s housing prices, or the fact that this mall is actually 14 miles from the East End.
8.) A full-size scale model of the Penguins’ future Uptown development. No, not the one that stays parking lots and piles of dirt for 10 years. The other one—Copenhagen starchitects Bjarke Ingels Group’s ambitious built-from-scratch neighborhood of interlocking offices, parkland, apartments and amenities.
9.) Replenish the Mills with more relevant retail. The key is to anticipate the hot new shopping trends for 2017. Like, say, hairpieces, lightly-used hats (red), gold-plated toilets and National Parks.
10.) Robot test track (indoor). Uber needs to test its self-driving cars on city streets, but other aspects of Pittsburgh’s robotics revolution have more, shall we say, indoor applications (Robocops, Terminators, etc.). Surely, you didn’t think all that Defense Department money flooding into Pittsburgh’s tech scene comes with no strings attached?
Got ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them.