By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — SouthSide Works opened with great fanfare, culminating in 2005 with word that American Eagle Outfitters would locate its headquarters there.

“With the upbeat energy here, a youthful dynamic and an urban environment, the SouthSide Works, like a great pair of AE jeans, is truly a perfect fit,” said then-American Eagle president, Susan McGalla, back in October of 2005.

But the last few years have taken a toll, especially on retail shops.

“I don’t really shop down here typically, but I do see it’s getting a bit of a ghost town, as far as retail,” noted Denise Giesmann of Plum.

It’s a familiar refrain.

“They seem to come and go, yes,” says Jason Beck of Brookline.

While favorites like the Cheesecake Factory, Sur la Table, and the movie theater continue, stores like BCBG and H&M have closed, and even American Eagle closed its retail store.

Everywhere you turn at SouthSide Works you see empty retail space — space after space after space — the question is whether the owner by partnering with somebody else can bring life back to this popular destination point.

“They do have a lot of vacancies. We do think that the Soffer family has taken it this far, and it was time for them to seek a partner to take it to the next level,” says Greg Broujos, a real estate expert from Colliers International Real Estate.

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Broujos says the decision of the owner, the Soffer Organization, to partner with Thor Equities of New York is terrific news.

“They are led by a gentleman named Joe Sitt, who is literally like the Steven Jobs of retail,” says Broujas.

So watch for something new and classy at SouthSide Works.

Broujos: “Generally, when Thor comes in, it’s cool retail concepts that maybe haven’t been to the market ever before. So I would look for new retail that’s hot in other markets that they will bring to Pittsburgh.”

Delano: “Something unique and unusual?”

Broujos: “Very unique. Very unusual. But always very exciting.”

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