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New Owner of Shoppes at Northway Outlines Preliminary Plans to Standing Room Only Crowd

Akron-based Levey and Company envisions a mixed-use facility featuring restaurants, retail, office space, and entertainment.

Representatives of Akron-based Levey & Company, which bought the Shoppes at Northway earlier this week, and have an agreement to buy the former spoke to a standing only room crowd Wednesday night about the developers' plans for the mall, and the adjacent school property. 

The meeting was held on the upper level of the mall, outside the entrance to the Dick's Sporting Goods store.

Gary G. O'Nesti, special projects director for Levey & Company, said first and foremost, the company was seeking to rezone the Northway Elementary property from residential to commercial. That application is scheduled to go before the Ross Township planning commission on Dec. 20.

O'Nesti told the crowd of over 200 mostly nearby residents that plans for the mall and school property are in the very preliminary stages and he hopes many of the current tenants are part of the new mall.

"It's a mixed hybrid facility. We've talked with seven to eight tenants so far," he said. "This is a very desirable location, what we need to do is work through the process. We're talking to everybody, and that's what we need to do at this point."

Many in the audience expressed concern about increased traffic, particularly if the current entrance to Northway Elementary off of Brown's Lane becomes another access point for the new mall.

Commissioner Peter Ferraro tried to ease those fears.

"We recognize there's a lot of concerns from the residents and we intend to address all these concerns that you have," he said. "The traffic on Brown's Lane will at the forefront of the discussions we will have with Levey and company. We'll do whatever we can to alleviate the congestion that you are concerned about on Brown's Lane."

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will residents have a say in what happens?

O'Nesti: "The most important thing that we can do is to listen to what you have to say. The thing that I think everybody understands is that you grew up with this mall, it's been here all these years, and you know how it functions. What we don't want to do is to come in and make it function differently, or create something that may be detrimental to not only to us, but to the neighborhood."

Q: When will the work begin?

A: It will be at least 18 months before any real construction work begins.

Q: What will be built on the Northway Elementary Property?

A: No decisions have been made yet.

Q: Will there be a Wal-Mart?

O'Nesti: "We have talked to a number of big box retailers, we have not had any discussions with Wal-Mart on this particular project and this particular location."

Q: How is Levey & Company going to succeed where the previous owners of the mall failed?

O'Nesti: What has to happen here is that we need to be innovative and creative with the mall. We have to evaluate what the shortcomings have been, and how we make those shortcomings better. How we create a better atmosphere for retail? It's got to be studied and done and done right. Then we have to have our discussions with the appropriate retailers and Ross Township to understand what we can and cannot do, and then try to make the project work. We're confident that we can do that, that's really what we do. That’s what we're real good at. 

Q: With McCandless Crossing just north of the Shoppes at Northway, is there really enough demand for even more retail development?

O'Nesti: "Clearly there's enough demand for that kind of development around here."

Q: What will be included in the new Northway Mall?

O'Nesti: "It'll be a mixed use development with retail restaurants hopefully, entertainment, something that will enhance the property and enhance the environment for shopping in the area and on this property. That's part of the challenge to work through that and then get it to work and get the facility to operate appropriately."

Q: Why did Shoppes at Northway fail?

Kevin Fallon, Vice President of Development, Levey & Company: "When you first come to this facility, as I did, I was dumbfounded. I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland and I just walked into a rabbit hole. Office space buried here, there are huge footprints of retailers everywhere, and it was just all cobbled together. I think that's part of the problem. I think somebody has to take a step back and plan for a well-thought out, well-planned retail mix and pedestrian mix, and figure it out."

Q: What will the new mall look like?

A: A few preliminary drawings were presented. The architects for the project are Cupkovic Architecture of Cleveland. Click here to see some of their previous work. 

Reaction

Peter Ferraro: "For Northway mall, in my opinion, it's a godsend because this mall is dying. If you can't recognize that, you are missing the boat. I've lived here for 42 years, and I can see how it's on the decline. The last thing you want to have is an empty mall. Development is just going to go further north. They'll be up at McCandless Crossing. And your tax base is going to erode and your taxes will increase. I don't want to see anyone's taxes raises. Now we see an infusion of McKnight Road properties. I would venture to say that in the next couple of years you would see a decrease in your taxes."

John Schalcosky, President of Ross Township Historical Society: "I think it's great what they're doing, bringing it back to life, especially since it's been dying for so long. For historic reasons, for a mall to be a mall, that's what's important. As for the traffic problems, what about when the mall was an active mall? I mean really. It's not going to impact it that much."

John Franko, nearby resident: "I'm all for it, I've been coming to this mall for 45 years and I do agree that something has to be done for it. I hope it's successful and I wish them luck, but I'm waiting to see what they do with the traffic."

Craig Linner, President of Ross Economic Development: "I think it's a great idea. I think we need it. I think the issues that were brought up were legitimate, but I think what we need to realize is that when this mall was an ongoing concern, and when the school was up and functioning as a school, there was a lot of traffic then. We don't have that level of traffic now and we could just go back to what it used to be. I think either way if we address the traffic issues this mall is important to the community.

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Did you attend the meeting? What do you think of these plans? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Richard December 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I don't think traffic is going to be a problem. There are 7 or 8 different exits or entrances. When it was doing a big business years ago there was not a problem with the traffic. Plus there is Plenty of Parking. The Back parking lot by Marshalls is a disaster. The design is terrible and causes people to walk past SPEEDING Vehicles to get to the Mall. Also The Overhang elimated much needed space for business's where they planted BUSHES ????? Sounds to me like the Company that has purchased the mall will do an Excellent Job in bringing back Business and Jobs to the North Hills.
Jose December 06, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Really Pete Ferraro said "Now we see an infusion of McKnight Road properties. I would venture to say that in the next couple of years you would see a decrease in your taxes." This is really ridiculous does anyone really think this would happen and taxes will go down, they will figure out a way to spend any increase in revenue if there is one. I was unable to be at the meeting so from what I understand there will be an entrance to the Mall at the Browns lane intersection, that shoudl really make things mice for the residents that live in the Marie Drive plan, its hard enough to get out of there now. And so if this company has not decided what they want to put on the Northway School property, which is not true in my mind, how can they get the land rezoned for commerical if we do not know what they are going to out there? Face it they already know they just did not reval that so quell the complaints from residents. The township should have acquired the school land and made a community center or park out of it, instead the residents of this area no have no place they can take their children that is close by to play or their children can go. What a shame.
Grammar Nazi December 06, 2012 at 01:36 PM
You sound like a moron...back to elementary school!
John December 06, 2012 at 02:30 PM
But traffic is a concern if you live in the neighborhood adjacent to the mall. I'm beginning to wonder if the primary concern of the developers is the existing mall, or the proposed office buildings in the lot near Club Julian, and the development of the school area.
John Schalcosky December 06, 2012 at 02:44 PM
As the President of the Ross Township Historical Society I had an in depth conversation with the Principal Architect of the project & I will say that I am VERY impressed! He is going to COMPLETELY redesign Northway Mall & bring it into the future with his plan. There is going to be a very large parking garage added to the property along with a "midway" in between the mall that will feature up to 4 new restaurants. Northway Mall as we know it now will completely change in design & format, so remember when you comment on here that if you refer to a current tenant or the current layout of the mall - it will ALL change. The architect kept telling me to refer to his point "it will be like no other mall in the country. It will take the North Hills into the future with its very contemporary design and will attract a crowd, not only because of the retail, but also because the plans that will be Architecturally significant in the modern world". Sounds good to me! I mentioned at the meeting & was later told by the architect that he will consider redesigning his plans to include a brand new tropical birdcage in the new midway!! REMEMBER also that as for traffic concerns - why all of the complaining now? The mall has been there for 55 years and now there is all of a sudden a huge backlash about traffic?? Those people who are complaining about it need to look at the "big picture" with how this redesign of the property will positively affect them. John Schalcosky Pres. of Ross History
John Schalcosky December 06, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Just so you know - Ross Township already has 23 great parks that no one uses. Traffic will just go back to how it was when the mall was more active like it was 10-15 years ago. Ross Township also already has an amazing community center (where I worked for a couple of years) just a little further down McKnight.
Jose December 06, 2012 at 03:17 PM
You are missing my point it's not just Northway Mall, the township over the years has allowed McKnight road to become what it is today without any real planning for traffic by just allowing people to build things without thinking about how to effectively manage the huge volumes of traffic. There are no parrel roads between the businesses along McKnight Road which causes all traffic to have to use McKnight Road to get from one place to another. This is only going to make things worse. If what you say the architect said is true, "it will be like no other mall in the country. It will take the North Hills into the future with its very contemporary design and will attract a crowd", then there would be much more traffic than currently and certainly than was there even when Northway Mall was in its hey day placed on a infrastrcture that was never designed properly to handle the current traffic let alone more. Given the current traffic on the McKnight Road corridor and due to poor the design and development that the township allowed over the years, if they indeed do place an entrance to the mall property at Marie Drive and Browns Lane, that intersection will be horrible to get out of if you are coming from the residential area. It is hard to get out of there today without this new development. See below…
Lisa Marie December 06, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I completely agree with John Schalcosky! ;) This is a great thing coming to our own backyard; Embrace it people!!! Geez everyone just has to have something to complain about. “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Jose December 06, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Bowns lane ill be come the main backdoor into the mall as it is today, but it will be worse. Just look at the busy times wat the McIntyre jug handle and Babcock and Roderick, its jammed, people are going to try to avoid those areas by using the Browns lane entrance and will alco becoming through the Keown Heights via Crider to by pass the traffic. I am just saying the shiny new penny of a mall loses some of its sheen for those who live close and will have to deal with this but for others like yourself that do not and will just be patrons well its great.
David December 06, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Come on, the main corridor through Ross Township is becoming Penn Hills and you are worried about traffic?? We need to embrace new upper quality development on McKnight in order to maintain the overall quality of this community. You are going to get the McKnight traffic whether it is going to the Northway property or if it is simply passing through on its way a couple miles north.
John December 06, 2012 at 04:05 PM
John, we're well aware that you're the president of the society. You do great work, but there are people who are more familiar with the mall history. There hasn't been a sudden backlash against the traffic. Babcock has become a major east-west corridor in the past decade and traffic has increased significantly. The result has been a significant increase in the traffic "cutting through" Swan Acres to access 19. And visa versa. I see it everyday. In addition, a lot of people already come down Lindisfarne to access the mall. So with the "new" mall, there will be even more traffic. There are at least two dozen accidents at the Marshall's entrance to the mall each year, and it's becoming more dangerous to pull into the lower end of Swan Acres, near the car wash. The McCandless Crossing development is only making things worse. Swan Acres and the lower part of McCandless will be sandwiched in the middle. I would love to see the mall flourish again, I really would. Plus, the developers seemed to be stand-up guys. I'll give it a chance. But I don't want my neighborhood becoming a bigger parking lot. It's easy to look at the big picture when you don't have as much at stake.
John Schalcosky December 06, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Thanks John. A little history with McKnight also is that is was never designed to be used as a business corridor in the first place. It was just a road for local farmers to use to transport their goods from here to there. Although I obviously don't know absolutely everything about the mall - i do probably do know the most facts & history of the surrounding area and able to back those up with documents. Plus I grew up going to that mall & even had my first job there when I was 16 years old too. I do agree with you about your concern for the directly surrounding neighborhoods & the increase in traffic. Hopefully with the increase in traffic, the county will consider redesigning & improving the roads that already exist. The developers are not adding any new entrances or taking any away - so mall traffic should just resume like it always had in the past. Some people are always going to get into accidents & some will always take their own "shortcuts" through neighborhoods but I don't believe it will get worse than it has been in the past. But I do see yours & everyone else's concern about the added traffic but unfortunately, living next to a Mall, it is kind of expected.
John December 06, 2012 at 05:49 PM
You make great points, but again, it's easy to say if it doesn't directly affect you. Good luck with the society. It's good to see a St. Teresa kid ( I think) do well.
Richard December 06, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Hi All, As far as accidents go on the above conversation. It is a MIRACLE that we don't have 11 or 12 accidents a day. Between Cell phones / texting and SPEED it will be a relief to just park and sit in the new Mall. When the Big one happens on McKnight there will be a Total disaster due to SPEED. NO ONE CARES ANYMORE.
John Schalcosky December 06, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Thanks man & I agree :) Your right about St. T's & my Mom taught 3rd Grade there from 1978-1982 & 1990-2003. If you have a facebook come join our group - http://www.facebook.com/groups/335649016485767/
John December 06, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Good points!
John December 06, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Thanks John, I will. I know a couple of people who go to the meetings. They really enjoy them
John December 06, 2012 at 06:45 PM
You are right in stating that an upgrade is needed, but it's still easy for you to talk if it does not directly effect you. Creating more destination points creates even more traffic. It gives people more reason to "pass through."
bob haller December 07, 2012 at 01:59 AM
John Schalcosky, you claim they arent planning any new mall entrances but as people pointed out last night the drawings showed the schools entrance as a new mall entrance... I want to see the mall brought back, but it shouldnt be allowed to cause browns lane to become a new mini mc knight. plus the mc knight peebles intersection can be a nightmare..... I live behind mc intyre square and remember just a few years ago that intersection being gridlocked. The browns lane neighbors should demand what the mcintyre road residents did when ross park mall was built. no mall entrances....... the meeting was interesting they began by stating we will keep the meeting going as long as there were questions but called the meeting over when people started complaining.... Somone said maybe they are more interested in developing the school site than the mall? I believe they said there would be nothing without the school site... at least thats what I heard.
John Schalcosky December 07, 2012 at 03:54 AM
They are just using the same entrances that Northway Mall has always used. That shortcut road next to the apartments & school was always an entrance. It is obviously going to bring more traffic than what's been coming through recently but I think most are forgetting how traffic was when the mall was more active. I don't see how its going to change that drastically. On my history page on Facebook, I just posted all the articles from when the mall opened in August 1st 1962. Over 40,000 people attended the opening ceremony & those people used all of the entrances to the mall including McKnight & Browns Lane. How is this new development going to to change traffic any differently than it was 50 years ago???
bob haller December 07, 2012 at 02:10 PM
John go over and check out the schools entrance! the developers drawing shows it as a additional mall entrance You are mistaken the school driveway had ZERO connection to the mall... it never did. no one would want to mix mall traffic with school children. Now as you must be aware 50 years has seen a explosion in the number of vehicles people own. If the new northway is a success, and I would HOPE everyone wants it to be, traffic will be a nightmare.:( I dont live off browns lane, but do undersatand their concerns. Since I live right off peebles road and remember when holiday traffic jams spilled over onto my street balmoral making it impossible to get out. the develpoers do their thing make big bucks and move on. the local residents are left hlding the bag....... The browns lane entraces to the mall should be sealed to get the rezoning approved, have the developers add or upgrade the babcock blvd entrance to the mall or better yet a fly over ramp onto mc knight. which is what ross park mall should of been required to do, like monroeville mall has onto rt 22 or put a big condition on the developers. if browns lane traffic hits a particular number in the future require the developers to close the browns lane entrances permanetely, fr the safety and convenience of the neighbors who have lved there forever most 20 years or more..
Jose December 07, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Very good points Bob, and right many of us are long time residents there going on almost 50 years now. But the township will not do anything that you suggested, they will allow it to be built and be wooed over tax revenue instead of doing what is right by its residents. Look at McKnight Road as a whole no planning at all in Ross. They can use the increased tax revenue I guess to rebuild the township maintenance garage that they did not maintain properly that we that live in ross must all pay for now.
Jose December 07, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Right but there was not the overbuilding of other establishments that was allowed to happen over the past 50 years then, so the 40,000 is now much more and now people look for alternatives to get around traffic jams, that exist today with Northway Mall almost empty, by going through residential neighborhoods both in Keown Hieghts and Swan Acres. And they are looking to put an entrance to the new mall at Marie drive from what I know, who would you like a entrance to a mall across or very near to your house?
John Schalcosky December 07, 2012 at 04:22 PM
There is nothing at all in their plans about an added entrance off of Marie Drive. They are using ONLY the existing entrances which are - 3 off of McKnight, 1 off of Corbett Ct, Northway Mall Drive off of Browns Lane, and 2 off of Babcock Blvd. That really makes a total of 7 entrances that already & have always existed. Why is everyone complaining where there is so many alternate ways to enter the mall. I understand everyone's frustration that live in Swan Acres & off of Marie Drive & Browns Lane BUT how is this different than the past 50 years? There has always been a mall there & people have always used their own ways of getting there. The fact that alot of you live next to the mall (by the way - I'm withing walking distance myself) we all knew what we were getting into when we moved that close to it. All this complaining in my opinion is totally out of context. What's wrong with progress?? Would you rather live next to a dead vacant mall? Plus having a new crowd coming to the mall would hopefully force stricter police presence to help solve some of your concerns about speeding & accidents. Plus the county will now take into effect the added traffic and will improve the roads. Unlike most people on here - I've had multiple private meetings with both the real estate developers and the architects & I have complete confidence that this is going to be SO great for not just the township but for ALL of the people of Ross & the surrounding communities.
Richard December 07, 2012 at 07:16 PM
John, It would be Very Nice if the Mall Owners would dedicate a free space to you to display historical Memorabilia of the North Hills area for all to see and enjoy ! Doesn't hurt to ask.
John December 07, 2012 at 07:43 PM
To say that more development of the mall won't bring more traffic is just being ignorant. Plain and simple. The idea is to bring more people in. All I know is that there are already times when there are two or three cars backed up at stop signs in my neighborhood. It is getting worse. I'm as attached to the mall as anyone on here and I want to see it continue in some way. But I have the right to be concerned about traffic, which can impact the quality of life and the property values of a neighborhood. People always support progress when it isn't in their backyard. Ask the people in the neighborhoods north of Perrymont Road what they think of the McCandless Crossing development.
Tami December 07, 2012 at 09:35 PM
My biggest fear is the school bus stop at the top of Marie Drive. The children barely have enough space to stand SAFELY now. Every morning when I leave for work I see them standing partially on Browns Lane or across the street in Northway Elementary driveway. What will happen when this development takes off? I too hope this mall revitalizes the area but am concerned for the safety of the children from Keown Heights. I was unable to attend the meeting and was hoping to see this issue addressed. Since Mr. Ferraro lives in our neighborhood, I am hoping this issue, as well as the traffic concerns, are addressed.
bob haller December 07, 2012 at 11:38 PM
John S you claim you were at the same meeting I was... During that meeting the developer said no extra entrances, But as someone pointed out their drawings showed the school entrance being changed to a mall entrance. the developer said its only a drawing..... now wouldnt you as a developer create drawings of what you want? I do wonder where the hotel rumor started? they just said it wasnt decided yet, and spent lots of time stating screening would block most but not everything from browns lane. That would fit with a hotel becase they are generally multi story. John can you get those developer drawings put on the net somehow? So you will and everyone will see the school entrance being changed into a mall or hotel entrance?? I am sure all the local residents will be thrilled with a hotel and its traffic in their neighborhood:(

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