D Magazine/Shawn Williams: Saving Old Red Bird Mall
In this month’s D Magazine, there’s an article written by yours truly where I talk about the plight of Southwest Center/Red Bird Mall. You can read Saving Old Red Bird Mall at the D Magazine site (MAKE SURE TO GO PICK UP A FEW COPIES). Thanks to Tim Rogers at D for the opportunity, and Trey Garrison for helping me with the edit. Here are a few excerpts from the article.
- My son and I recently found ourselves in the mall formerly known as Red Bird because I had forgotten Dillard’s had packed up last year and moved to the new Uptown Village at Cedar Hill. We tried to find something else to occupy our time since we had already made the trip. “Does this mall have a Build-A-Bear Workshop?” my first-grader asked. “No, son,” I said, halfway shamed by his question and my answer. “They don’t have that store here.”
- Dr. Frederick D. Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church and a group of Southern Dallas pastors unsuccessfully pursued a joint venture with an investment group to purchase the mall in 2001. (“The owners of Red Bird got complacent and didn’t keep up with what other malls were doing,” Haynes says. “They lost contact with the community.”) Then Dr. Roland Hill, pastor of the Living Waters Worship Center, created the Red Bird Renaissance Community Development Committee to help find new ownership. But again, no deal.
- Some of these challenges of perception may be addressed now that Mayor Tom Leppert’s 240-member Southern Dallas Task Force lists the mall as a top priority. Edna Pemberton was assigned by Leppert and Councilman Tennell Atkins to serve as a liaison between Southwest Center’s tenants and the city. Pemberton’s duties have included everything from persuading an Oncor meter man not to flip the switch on the mall’s power to leading a group of store owners to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the Department of Labor.
- Start by changing the name back to Red Bird Mall. Tear down everything west of the common area that stands in front of Foley’s, including the vacant J.C. Penney and most of Dillard’s. The lower level that leads east toward Penney’s is void of tenants. The stores that are open on the upper level of that end of the building can flip to the boarded-up spaces in front of Sears on the far east side.