Courtesy of Life Time.

As the old saying goes: Sometimes you have to lose a department store to get a pool.

This April, Simon Property Group won approval for a massive redevelopment of the South Hills Village mall, which will turn now-shuttered sections of Sears into an array of lifestyle and entertainment options.

Construction is set to begin later this year. Their first tenant in this brave new mall? Life Time, a national chain of fitness centers based in Minneapolis.

Speaking with NEXTpittsburgh, Life Time’s Senior Director of Public Relations Natalie Bushaw says that while plans are still forming, the company is looking to open their doors to the South Hills sometime in 2021.

The completed building, which Bushaw compared to a Home Depot in terms of scale, will include a 120,000-square-foot indoor fitness center with a 20-30,000-square-foot outdoor pool and café area.

As with all Life Time locations, the development will have a full selection of gym equipment, spa areas, a fast-casual restaurant and on-site childcare.

Though preliminary designs are still being drafted, she says, “it’s safe to say it’s between a $30 and 40 million dollar project.”

Founded nearly 30 years ago, the company has significantly expanded its footprint and offerings in the last several years.

In addition to building new fitness centers across the nation, the company is also preparing to roll out Life Time Living: full-service residential wings of their resorts in Las Vegas, Miami and Dallas starting next year. Bushaw says there are currently no plans to include apartments in their South Hill Village franchise.

Breaking into the affluent suburbs around Pittsburgh has been a long-time goal, says Bushaw, but it only became possible with recent churns in consumer habits.

“We’ve always built these massive clubs,” she explains. “But what we as Life Time haven’t been able to do is go into more of the first-ring suburbs of markets, because the land has already been developed.”

Now, with shopping malls across the Pittsburgh region and the nation shifting from away from traditional retail and toward the business of recreation, the company suddenly finds itself surrounded by property owners eager to diversify.

“The whole idea of what a shopping center is is changing,” says Bushaw. “They’re creating a more lifestyle experience.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.