Toward the end of 2015, Dallas-based private equity investor Peter Brodsky acquired Southwest Center Mall, located in southwest Oak Cliff. Formerly known as Red Bird Mall, this southwest Dallas shopping center opened in 1975 and originally was owned by the DeBartolo family. It was, and remains, the only major mall located in the southern half of Dallas. Its original name came from the Red Bird area of the Dallas, in which it is located.
Southwest Center mall is currently anchored by three department stores: Sears, Macy’s, and Burlington Coat Factory. The interior of the mall was about 60 percent occupied at the time of Brodsky’s acquisition.
Along with the mall, he acquired the former Dillard’s, which is in the middle of the mall on the southern side. The vision is to transform it into a center of high-quality, family-oriented retail, entertainment and dining for the southern Dallas community, the new owner says.
As early as the mid-1980s, demographics began to change dramatically in the area surrounding the mall. At the same time, a perception of crime began to brand the area. Both contributed to a domino effect of retailers closing their stores. The development of other malls would also impact Southwest Center Mall. In 1988 The Parks Mall in Arlington opened just 15 miles west. Many of the retailers from Red Bird moved their stores to Arlington. In 2008, MG Herring group opened a 615,000-square-foot open-air mall, Hillside Village (formerly Uptown Village) in Cedar Hill. Dillard’s relocated its store from Southwest Center Mall to Hillside.
There are still many positive attributes to Southwest Center mall that create the right opportunity for redevelopment. There is good population density, solid income, and enough land mass to create an impressive mix-use project. There is also a dearth of quality retail options for residents of southern Dallas and the southern suburbs. With the right vision, design, fortitude, and team, this project can be a catalyst for additional redevelopment within the corridor.