The Dallas Examiner
The further economic growth of South Dallas may have just come cold pressed with an extra shot. At least, that appeared to be the the eager attitude on display from officials and a small crowd during the Nov. 14 groundbreaking for a new Starbucks Coffee Company location on the northern side of Red Bird Mall.
The freestanding structure will be built on the property of the slowly rejuvenating mall and is scheduled for a 2018 opening. Once completed, the establishment will hire locally and will provide customer service training as well as management or assistant management training.
Casey Thomas II, city councilman for District 3, expressed that the move is a step in the right direction for the rebranding of the region.
“Today is not just a great day for Southern Dallas; it’s a great day for Oak Cliff. A lot of people who grew up here, who work here, live here, native Oak Cliffians – they understand how important this is.”
While at the microphone, he made two points: First, at one time, there was a Starbucks across from the mall that closed down – as did one in DeSoto and one in Duncanville – after the economic troubles of 2008. With his second point, he assured those gathered that such an outcome would not be repeated.
“On my watch I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that not only Starbucks is successful, but that this is an anchor for other developments that’ll take place right here in this community. It’s going to create opportunity for not just entry-level jobs, minimum-wage jobs, high-wage jobs, and we’re going to bring other corporations and businesses here,” he said.
The councilman compared the potential that the Starbucks’ opening had on the region to the 1849 California Gold Rush.
“It took one person to say that ‘There’s gold in them hills,’ and everybody came in.” He characterized Red Bird Mall property owner Peter Brodsky as that one voice in the wilderness promising an economic bonanza.
Mayor Mike Rawlings, no stranger himself to the ups and downs of the food and beverage industry as the former CEO of Pizza Hut, thanked the assembled police officers attending the groundbreaking for their service.
“Hopefully, this is gonna be a hangout for you guys,” he expressed.
The mayor continued to discuss the growth of the surrounding area.
“It’s great to talk about things, but I get a lot more excited about doing things, and today we’re doing something. Something that’s important to the community, but symbolically, one of the most important things in Dallas.”
The mayor indicated that what the city needed were “public partners” and companies that would invest in the area as a way to not only bring in jobs and generate economic growth, but also to get involved with the surrounding communities. With the Starbucks’ website claiming more than 24,000 stores globally, a single coffee shop returning to the largest mall in the Southern Sector might be a portent of greater things to come south of the Trinity River.
“So what I’ve realized that what Starbucks wants to do is not only sell coffee, but improve the neighborhood. Improve the city of Dallas,” Rawlings said. “So we signed up. They put their money where their mouth is. It’s not just about coffee but about transforming lives. As we start to think about how people can put their capital to work in Southern Dallas, you have to understand something we’ve said [since] day one; that Southern Dallas is a wonderful investment opportunity,” he maintained.
Traci York, a regional vice-president of operations for Starbucks, described how her mother was a former Dallas ISD teacher in Oak Cliff who spent many hours and many dollars in and around the mall. She also hinted at some of the things the java giant had already done for the surrounding community her mother so often frequented, such a bringing together more than 50 companies for the Dallas Opportunity job fair in May. The event specifically focused on youth 16 to 24 who were not in school and were looking for employment or educational opportunities.
“In a single day we hired nearly 1,000 young people, launching an effort with the city and this community to reach more youth, long term,” York noted. “That day was a reminder of the strength and resilience of this community and our city’s youth and the potential we have as a community to work together and drive meaningful opportunity for them, and bridge the divide.”
The Starbucks representative continued and voiced specifically how the coming store will bring positive change to the neighborhood.
“Our new store here in Red Bird is a key part of that work and makes a historical milestone for us,” York commented. “Working together with the community, this new location will support revitalization efforts; create meaningful local jobs, investing in local, minority-owned contractors to build the store; providing in-store job skills training programs to local youth.
“The hub,” she concluded. “This will be a community hub. This will be the heartbeat of Southern Dallas.”