Re-Imagine Red Bird: South Dallas mall development is more than just a project

Re Imagine Red Bird at City Council
Re Imagine Red Bird at City Council

Special to The Dallas Examiner

The Re-imagine Red Bird Mall development, the renovation and redevelopment of the mall located at 3662 W. Camp Wisdom Road, crossed another hurdle June 13.

Community leaders, churches, homeowner associations and individuals throughout the Southern Sector have long taken a stand for high-quality development at the former Red Bird Mall. The mall is expected to drive growth in Dallas and the surrounding suburbs.

Nearly 300 residents and investors of the mall arrived at City Hall in personal vehicles and chartered buses to attend the Dallas City Council meeting. They all spoke about the underdevelopment of the Southern Sector and urged the council members to vote to authorize $22 million for the renovation and redevelopment of the mall.

Dominique Alexander, a concerned citizen, stressed he wanted to ensure that all the goals of the development are met and that Black businesses will not be excluded. He emphasized that the Southern community has equity in tiffs and he wanted to see the Southern Sector thrive.

Roland Parrish and Randy Bauman spoke from the standpoint of investors.

“I am not betting on Peter Brodsky. I am betting with Peter Brodsky,” Bauman clarified. “I am betting on a set of beliefs. I am betting on better purchase power and consumer loyalty of the communities that surround Redbird from Pleasant Grove and true South Dallas to North Oak Cliff and the houses nestled around Redbird Mall. I’m betting on them.

“I am betting on the ability to put to rest a tardy evolution or the creation of a tardy evolution of a mindset that continues to fade away but needs to speed up a little bit. It is a mindset that says people of color cannot bring in capital and business acumen to bear on projects to form Southern Dallas.”

Edna Pemberton, a long time activist who has championed the cause of Red Bird Mall for many years, said she never gave up on the mall. Using a reference from old western movies – just when it seemed all was lost – she said that Peter Brodsky has sounded the horn to call in the cavalry, or in this case, the City Council. Her short speech received a quick standing ovation.

The package was approved and includes 2006 Bond Funds of $244,518; 2012 Bond Funds of $1,743,282; 2017 Bond Funds of $8,012,200; Mall Area Redevelopment TIF District Funds of $15,600,000 and Public/Private Partnership Funds of $12,000,000.

Renamed Southwest Center Mall many years ago in an attempt to change the struggling mall’s reputation, the name will be changed back to Red Bird Mall to reflect the name of the surrounding community – with the purpose of rejuvenating the residential and business communities, increasing job opportunities and providing business incubators for local entrepreneurs.

Brodsky, who purchased the mall in 2015, expressed that the money would offer unlimited opportunities.

“We are re-envisioning this once-thriving center, as a mixed-use development offering southern Dallas residents a mixture of retail, office, hotel and multi-family space while also encouraging ‘walkability’ throughout the site,” he said, explaining that this was more than just a project. “This is an opportunity to turn the page and have a fresh start. Southern Dallas residents have the same purchasing power as North Dallas residents. We are trying to provide a level of quality that does not exist in the Southern Sector.”

The strategy to regain consumer interest is to return the mall to a center of quality and to redesign it to fit with current market demands. Some changes will include: a one-acre lawn for community gatherings and events, enhanced dining and shopping, and existing buildings will be repurposed as office buildings.

Other speakers in support of the project included Dallas entrepreneur Bobby Lyle, President of Regional Black Contractors Association John Proctor, and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Council members also weighed in, supporting the project.

Tennell Atkins, whose district includes Red Bird Mall, outlined all the work Brodsky and his team had done. Stacking four large binders that included his 2,000-page application, Atkins explained no other company or individual had ever been asked for such details.

“Brodsky did everything the city asked … there have been hundreds of millions of dollars going North [that] never went through this. But he went through it. When he went through it, he came back, he did everything they asked him to do,” he said. “We’re not giving him anything. He earned the money. This is taxpayer money.”

He said the mall was not a charity case; the redesign is for the future of the community. He referred to Dallas as a “Tale of Two Cities,” as the struggling South looks at the money being invested in the thriving North.

Atkins then summed up the hopes of the community and the importance of this City Council vote.

“We have been waiting a long time for the opportunity to bring Red Bird back to its rightful place as a high-quality place for southern Dallas families to shop and gather,” he concluded. “Now is the time.”

Construction is expected to begin January 2019 and completed by December 2014.

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