Dillard's and Macy's are going to be part of the project. The Dillard's and Foley's (owned by the same company as Macy's) stores at SW Center Mall will be too close to the ones in Cedar Hill; it's almost a certainty that those stores will be closed.
Most elected officials were blindsided, but I believe that we could have been ahead of the curve in dealing with the mall. We have to keep an open line of communication with retailers, major real estate owners, and shopping center owners. We must be proactive to make sure our neighborhoods retain their stores. I know that Councilman Fantroy tried to work with some different retail groups to bring them the mall, and kudos to him for doing that, but unfortunately it didn't pan out. How much help did he get in this matter?
For example, the UrbanMarket (the grocery store that recently opened downtown) has been threatening to close their doors because they aren't getting the support they need from the City. Angela Hunt, the councilwoman for District 14, is actively involved in trying to keep the store open. We need more of that in the southern sector. Sometimes, the store will close or move away. You sometimes can't stop the movements of big corporations, but at least we would be ahead of the curve and could work on some countermeasures to offset the loss of city revenues.
It's just like when the Chili's restaurant closed a few months back. The restaurant was located at 67 & Camp Wisdom (map). It was a thriving business, always full on the weekend and often crowded during the week. It was one of the only major restaurants in the area that didn't focus solely on fried chicken. One day, it was just closed. No explanation, no heads-up, no nothing. Just a vacant store with a 'for lease' sign is all that remained. Now, those kids that worked in Chili's have no jobs. Now, there is no decent major restaurant located in that area (buffets don't count).
Camp Wisdom Road is now in a crisis. ALL OF THE STORES ARE LEAVING. From Haverty's to Chili's to Circuit City to others... They're all moving to Cedar Hill. These stores are being replaced with cheap stores that are already prevalent in our neighborhoods. They sell cheap clothes, bootleg purses, gold and diamond grillz, and other items which add little to the tax base and downgrade the profile of our shopping environments.
The last remaining viable pieces of an economic engine are being stripped away. When it's all said and done, Oak Cliff will be left with no major retail.
The new owner of SW Center mall has a reputation for operating bazaar-like shopping centers like Six Flags Mall in Arlington.
I made this plea to some of the 'powers that be' and I got the "treatment." That's when everyone says, "yeah, that's a GREAT idea!" and nothing happens
With no viable retail on the horizon, I believe that the best thing to do may be to demolish the mall and start over. Unfortunately, we may have missed our opportunity to do anything about it. The property was foreclosed upon in 2003, which created a window of opportunity. Once the property changed hands last December, I think we missed our shot.
The city has a major opportunity to develop major tax dollars in this area. I fear what will be left in its place. I hope my fears aren't confirmed.
Click here for a History of the Mall (from wikipedia).