DALLAS – The mayor of Dallas announced Friday he helped arrange for a new owner to buy the Southwest Center Mall, a well-loved landmark that's long past its prime.
Built in 1975 as the Red Bird Mall, it has struggled through financial problems and a lack of national retail tenants. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who has made it his mission to champion development is southern Dallas, and sees the purchase as a sign of positive change.
"Southern Dallas is not a charity case – it's an investment opportunity," Rawlings told a crowd on hand to hear the announcement at the mall Friday.
Rawlings said he personally lobbied the New Jersey group that owns the mall to sell it to Dallas businessman Peter Brodsky. Brodsky says he sees a vibrant future for this struggling mall.
"My plans include one key word: quality," he said.
The mayor said he will work with his colleagues on the city council to provide a currently undisclosed economic development package that supports the rebirth of the mall.
"It's going to be a mecca for other people to come to, as well. It's not just the community," Rawlings said. "In doing that, the community values will go up."
Pastor Ricky Rush, whose IBOC Church is in the neighborhood, says it's a powerful symbol for residents to be able to shop in their own neighborhood.
"To see that it's where you are and where you're from, it means a lot to me," Rush said.
That sense of pride could even extend to a name change. Once known as the Red Bird Mall, the developer has hinted he might bring the old name back.