For weeks it's been rumored that the city's getting ready to buy the JCPenney piece of the beleaguered Southwest Center Mall. Which, if true, wouldn't come as much of a surprise: The Urban Land Institute, paid $120,000 by the city council in April to "assess redevelopment options," suggested that very thing in its 99-page report submitted to the council in June. Right there, on Page 12, is says in big, bold letters: "Buy the Dillards and JC Penney parcels immediately to reduce the number of owners and to gain site control."
From the looks of the Economic Development Committee meeting agenda posted late Thursday, the city's taking at least part of that advice: Hammond Perot, assistant director of the Office of Economic Development, will present a "purchase option for the former JCPenney property at Southwest Center Mall." Perot's not yet in his office this morning, neither is Karl Zavitkovsky (he's in a meeting with Mary Suhm), and the briefing hasn't yet been posted, so we don't know the details till later today. But, as you may recall, back in April this is precisely what former council member Mitchell Rasansky feared as he argued with the council, and the mayor, about public involvement in a "private investment." Shawn Williams at Dallas South News noted in October that, yes, the mall's commons are under new ownership, but that some area residents aren't jazzed about the new owner: Jimmy Jazz.