Thursday, May 22, 2008

Does anyone smell a white elephant?

Things are going from bad to worse at the Route 19 shopping development know as The Foundry. "The Founder-y" is more like it. In the past couple of days, two of the few retailers at the site - Ross-Dress-for-Less and Bed, Bath & Beyond - have closed their doors over concerns about unstable ground under their stores. This comes on the heels of growing indications that the company developing the site, Premier Properties USA, is in such financial straits that it can't now, and might never be able, to fully develop the complex and bring in the businesses that have signed leases to set up shop there. There was great joy among my circle of friends when it was announced that Books A Million planned to come to The Foundry. Finally, a decent bookstore in Little Washington. But now I have my doubts we'll ever see it, or the Buffalo Wild Wings or Chipotle or Circuit City, etc., etc. Our business editor, Mike Bradwell, reported last month that Premier is dealing with serious financial problems, at least in part because of the national credit crunch. A couple of months ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Wachovia Bank filed an $80 million foreclosure lawsuit againt Premier in connection with its Bridgewater Falls shopping center in suburban Cincinnati. The completed shopping center was later placed in receivership. In all, 20 retailers have signed leases for the South Strabane location, but only four have opened. Now two of those are temporarily closed. The are no subsidence problems that we know of at J.C. Penney's and Max & Erma's, the last two businesses currently operating at the site, but they still must feel like the ground is crumbling beneath them. More stores means more traffic for all the retailers in a shopping center. Fewer stores means less traffic. Guess what Penney's and Max & Erma's are getting now. The O-R would like to tell you more about the prospects for further development at The Foundry, but the guy who runs Premier won't return our calls. No news is probably bad news.



Blogger Tracy J. said...

Well Happily hte store that were supposed to open here in Washignton are only a short drive west in Dallas Pike outside of Wheeling. There is already a Books-a Million, great store by the way, and a Bed, Bath & Beyond and by fall there will be a Circut City, and a bunch of other businesses opening. The Highlands are a great place to shop because there isn't a lot of traffic and it is a qucik easy drive on interstate, you can be there in less than 30 minutes. There is also one of the nicest Wal-marts i've every seen there and the best part of that is you don't have to deal with the crowds that the Washington one has. There is also already open an Olive Garden (much better than going up to the South Hills) and a restaurant called Cheddars, great food and reasonable prices.You ought to check it out when you get a chance.

May 22, 2008 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I have been to the Wal-Mart there once, and I noticed how much easier it was to get around than the one up here. I had forgotten that Books A Million was there. Thanks for the reminder. It's still a decent drive from Washington, but it's an easier drive that going up Route 19 to the big bookstores near South Hills Village.

May 22, 2008 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall that when the malling of Washington began back in the 90s, some people predicted that the stores would fold and we'd be stuck with rotting concrete hulks. Of course most people poo-pooed this and just looked at the short-term construction jobs that would be created.

On Pittsburgh's recently redeveloped South Side, several storefronts have closed and support for many other upscale specialty retailers is waning. It's a combination of the economic downturn and the simple fact that once the newness has worn off, people stop going to the hip new place.

I'd still like to see someone come in a revitalize a downtown area like Washington's or to start offering services that used to be associated with "the neighborhood": the corner grocery store and drugstore; the meat market; the bakery. With gasoline prices skyrocketing, we're soon going to have to prepare room for all the chickens who have returned home to roost after our short-sighted urban sprawling of the last 50 years.

May 22, 2008 at 1:38 PM  

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