Downtown Pittsburgh is getting the modern version of a mall.
Ensemble on Fifth, located in the former Jos. A. Bank space at 230 Fifth Ave., will open as an upscale co-retailing site in the fall.
“Retailers Downtown have been some of the businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Katie Conlon, marketing director for Millcraft, the Pittsburgh-based development firm spearheading the project. “We hope that by offering this innovative cooperative concept, we will attract new businesses back to the Downtown community.”
Between 10 and 15 fashion retailers and artisans will be able to occupy flexible vendor spaces in the LEED-certified building — which is adjacent to Market Square and close to bus stops and T stations — instead of springing for their own brick-and-mortar stores. Applications are now available online or by calling 724-222-1004.
Business owners who can sign a year-to-year, short-term or seasonal lease can take advantage of on-site shipping and receiving areas, secured private storage, product photography booths, dressing rooms, WiFi and janitorial services. Professional marketing support and advertising opportunities also are available.
Depending on a leaseholder’s needs, Ensemble on Fifth can serve either as an incubator for startups or a new retail format for established businesses.
Ensemble on Fifth will operate a collaborative staffing model among vendors, where Ensemble staff will help to cover shifts at each retail partner’s site. This allows for expanded hours of operation without each business owner needing to be present all of the time. Conlon envisions vendors hosting private, after-hours VIP events for customers in the space.
While the space won’t have a food court like a traditional mall, it will have a kitchenette in the back where vendors can prep food for customer events or chill a bottle of champagne.
Millcraft developed the cooperative concept due to the pandemic changing the way people work and shop. The company saw an opportunity to serve local businesses and creators.
“Co-retailing is the perfect solution for online retailers who want to grow without the headache,” Millcraft President Lucas Piatt says. “Opening a physical retail location is an expensive and time-intensive endeavor. Business owners have to deal with build-out, security, staffing, among a thousand other things. At Ensemble on Fifth, they can simply show up and begin doing what they do best – serving their customers.”