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How Do You Save a "Mostly Dead" Mall?

Back in April, the Dallas City Council agreed to spend $120,000 in economic development grant money so the Urban Land Institute could "assess redevelopment options" at Southwest Center Mall, formerly known as Red Bird. Only Mitchell Rasansky opposed the expenditure -- the now-former council member didn't like the idea of spending public money on a private enterprise. Which, turns out, is precisely what the ULI's team suggests in its 99-page report submitted last week to the city's Office of Economic Development.

There was a piece in The News on Saturday, the day after the panel made its presentation to city officials, but it's worth reading the report in its entirety, as it's filled with the very suggestions of which Rasansky was afraid earlier this spring, among them:

  1. Form an expanded tax increment financing district, including Executive Airport, to finance public investment in revitalization, job development and housing rehabilitation.
  2. Initiate a community-based revitalization strategy that finalizes development options and produces zoning consistent with revitalization.
  3. Buy the Dillards and JC Penney parcels immediately to reduce the number of owners and to gain site control.
  4. After the community-based revitalization strategy is created, recruit a developer or developers to implement the plan.
  5. Negotiate public private and civic partnerships that address the viability of the development.

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