Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
Oak Cliff's Southwest Center Mall was on the brink of bankruptcy, but now it's making a comeback.
A Dallas mall that at one point faced bankruptcy is revitalizing its space and bringing back tenants.
Southwest Center Mall is undergoing redevelopment four years after it filed bankruptcy and faced foreclosure.
"It was something that nobody thought it would happen," said Lisa Long, the mall's current general manager.
Long credits the city of Dallas for helping with the transformation, as well encouraging small business owners to open in the mall.
"This is people's livelihoods," she said. "The majority of the businesses are mom-and-pop businesses, and this is how they live."
Long took over the mall in August 2008. She said the escalators and elevators in the 1.3-million-square-foot property were not operating, pest control was not being performed and the irrigation was not functioning.
Despite having major department stores such as Macy's, Burlington Coat Factory and Sears as tenants, many stores decided to close shop, leading to the bankruptcy filing.
Krystal Ellis is one of the newest tenants. For two years, her Kemistre Boutique sold shoes, accessories and handbags on the Internet. Now the boutique occupies space on the second floor of the mall.
"The environment just felt good, and I felt that this was a great demographic for the product that I retail," Ellis said.
More than 100 retailers currently serve customers, translating to an 80 percent occupancy rate.
Long and her team are still looking for the rest of the 20 percent.
"We're on the homestretch," she said. "We have that little bit left, and we want the community to embrace it and support it."