Southwest Center Mall Urban Land Institute Use Study announced to nervous tenants

On Thursday, tenants at Southwest Center Mall were briefed about the Urban Land Institute Use Study commissioned by the Dallas City Council last week. The city will pay $120,000 to try to figure out what to do with the struggling retail outlet.

Edna Pemberton lead the meeting of current and future tenants. Some of those in attendance were getting nervous about rumors circulating that the mall was about to shut down. Many of them, like African-Imports and Mr. Pretzels, have been at the mall for years.

Pemberton did open up about some of the malls more tedious moments: pleading with an Oncor worker at the meter with his hand on the switch about to shut the mall’s power off. And a similar episode when the waters was about to be turned off.

But it’s been the City of Dallas and Councilman Tennell Atkins who’ve thrown lifelines out to the mall to help keep it afloat. Mr. Atkins recounted some of the history that landed the trouble mall in the hands of a bankruptcy court.

Councilman Tennell Atkins

Both Pemberton and Atkins were hopeful about the mall’s future, though the councilman curbed Ms. Pemberton’s enthusiasm on at least two occasion when she seemed to suggest that the mall will continue to exist in the same or similar capacity after the study.

Atkins also urged the group to start looking towards the 2010 Bond Package when the mall and community could request that funds for sorely needed infrastructure improvements are included.

As the meeting concluded, they announced a number of events planned for the near future:

  • Next Thursday April 23rd there will be a formal kickoff announcing the Urban Land Institute that will include Mayor Tom Leppert, Deion Sanders and others.
  • On May 6, a breakfast is scheduled to recognize National Small Business Appreciation Month. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (who the members from SWC met with on a trip to Washington) has been invited to speak at the breakfast.
  • May 16, the mall plansto recognize the accomplishments of current U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk who is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at U.T. Arlington the day before.
  • Labor Day Festival September 5-7 produced by that will include a Gospel and Soul Concerts, Bike/Car Exhibits, Comedy Shows, Purple Carpet Fashion Show, 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament and more.

Ms.Pemberton acknowledged the contributions of a number of members of the community who have supported the mall through its uncertainty, including Rev. Tommy Brown who she called “The Mall’s Pastor” and Danielle Ayers, Minister of Justice at Friendship-West Baptist Church.  Dallas South will continue to update the progress of the mall.

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