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Z Gallerie

Z Gallerie

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Not even one of the city's trendiest shopping and entertainment districts can escape the grip of the recession.SouthSide Works has lost its third retailer since the start of the year with the recent closing of the L.S.

Altman clothing store.Altman follows women's clothing store Ann Taylor Loft and home furnisher Z Gallerie out of the South Side.

Both of those stores fell victim to corporate restructuring, although Ann Taylor could resurface next year at the Bakery Square development in Larimer.Earlier this year, construction of a proposed $48 million condominium and hotel development, once described as the "crowning jewel" of SouthSide Works, was delayed indefinitely when the developer was unable to secure financing because of tight credit markets.And last year, The Sharper Image store closed at SouthSide Works after the San Francisco retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.David Glickman, vice president of the Grubb & Ellis Retail Group, has a simple explanation for the woes: the recession.With the multiple retail closings, SouthSide Works is no different than other open-air shopping districts throughout the country, which have been losing stores because of the economy and the havoc it has caused retailers, he said."If SouthSide Works didn't have store closures, it would be quite an anomaly.

Those types of projects [nationwide] are experiencing similar store closures.

It's actually worse in some cities," he said.Larry Altman, owner of L.S.

Altman, said "various factors," including the economy, forced him to close his doors April 30 after nearly four years at SouthSide Works."Right this minute, the economy is affecting every form of retail.

It hasn't made retail anything but more difficult," he said.Mr.

Altman still retains his store at Norman Centre in the South Hills, where he is holding a liquidation sale.Officials with the Soffer Organization, the SouthSide Works developer, could not be reached for comment.While the Ann Taylor, Z Gallerie and Sharper Image spaces remain vacant, Via, a women's clothing boutique, plans to occupy the 1,500-square-foot store vacated by L.S.

Altman.Sharone Cohen, a partner in the store, said Via will offer a mid to high-end clothing line featuring styles from the South Beach, Fla., area, Europe and Los Angeles as well as a section for local designers.Mr.

Cohen, whose other Via store is in South Beach, said he had been searching for a location in Pittsburgh when he saw a sign advertising the Altman space."This is a very refreshing and new area of Pittsburgh," he said.

"It's a nice, high-traffic area."Mr.

Glickman expects SouthSide Works to bounce back once the economy improves.

He said the complex still has a strong appeal with draws like the Cheesecake Factory, the Hofbrauhaus, and a movie theater."Even though there are closures, I would expect those to fill up nicely when retailers become more active, maybe even before then, because SouthSide Works is so unique," he said.Mr.

Glickman himself is representing a local group with plans to open a casual bar and restaurant called Shady Grove in a two-story building scheduled to be built on a vacant lot in the complex.The Soffer Organization still is trying to negotiate a lease with a second tenant, a Columbus-based Mexican restaurant called Adobe Gila's.Mark Belko can be reached at [email protected] or 412-263-1262.First published on May 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
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