The Future of the Mall at Steamtown

SCRANTON — Inside The Mall at Steamtown many stores are now empty, including the space that housed the former Bon Ton store, which was one of the anchors of the retail center. After Tuesday’s sale there were a number of ideas about what should be done to save the mall, including one that could be considered somewhat out of the box.

The mall’s mortgage holder bought the struggling retail center at sheriffs sale, taking over the $37.2 million that’s left on the mortgage.

The owner of the mall’s only anchor store, Al Boscov, announced he wants to buy the mall from the new buyer if the price is right.

Lackawanna County leaders revealed they’d be open to moving county offices into the mall if the price is right.

And then there’s Michele Dempsey, an architect with offices just a block from The Mall at Steamtown.

“The urban mall, it’s not working anywhere right now. So I think the way we save the mall is to deconstruct it and turn it into a destination,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey’s plan included taking the roof off much of the mall and making it into an outdoor neighborhood with offices, retail shops, and residences.

She even advocated extending Wyoming Avenue and Penn Avenue right through the new community.

Dempsey’s idea would keep Boscov’s as an anchor.

While she didn’t agree with moving county offices into the existing mall, she pointed out there would be room for them in the new outdoor neighborhood.

Dempsey didn’t immediately know how much her plan would cost, but she said the right investment group with the right vision and resources could make it happen.

“Just turn the mall inside out. Give it back to the street. Give it the vibrant storefronts again, because right now when you walk down those four blocks, it’s a little bit of a dead zone.”

5 comments

  • Jer Tobin

    Am I one of the few people that think the idea of outdoor malls are stupid? When I go shopping, I don’t want to have to worry about the weather, and I just want to be in a weather/temperature controlled environment. I have visited maybe 5 stores for example at the Shoppes at Montage since they have been there because I have no interest in walking a long stretch of area with stores on only one side in the cold, in the heat, in the rain, etc.

  • jason ei

    Make it a community for artists and musicians and make it AFFORDABLE because most artist and musician’s are poor. They did it in Phoenix AZ and it works. You can have live-in studio lofts and performance spaces. Cafe culture. Scranton needs this. It would be the best thing since prufrock’s.

  • Franko

    How about just implode it likt they did all the buildings that were there — many people said about 21 yrs ago that the mall wasn’t going to make it 20 year and you know what — the people were right ! I’ve traveled to many different areas and malls in a downtown section of a city just don’t survive…

  • tom

    I believe ms. Dempsey is right-but years ago an artist rendition in the Times showed the old building reconstructed-a regular “downtown” area.it would have been better and have saved money instead of buiding that monstrosity.Who’s idea was that in first place.Long ago alot of people said it would become a hangout for weirdos and a drug dealing place.While at Starbucks I saw a drug deal right in front’another time right in the men’s restroom.

  • Fatboy

    Didn’t they try something similar to this up the street behind Coney Island and all those places are empty ? 530 LACAWANNA WAS THERE ? THE BAR

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