A Dallas city council committee Monday endorsed a $2.4 million grant for the latest Southwest Center Mall revival plan.
The new plan comes from Dallas investor Peter Brodsky who said he purchased the mall with $10 million of his own money in September.
The plan heard Monday includes the city investment in total project of at least $25 million.
Brodsky intends to add residential and office development to the site along with a total renovation of the 40-year-old mall on Camp Wisdom Road at U.S. Highway 67 and Interstate 20.
“You’ve got 90 acres of parking lot with a building plopped down in the middle and that’s just now how people want to live and shop today,” he said. “I think there’s a real opportunity to increase the relationship and the flow between the outside and the inside. So, some restaurants outside, that would lead into the mall. Perhaps a movie theater outside that would lead into the mall.”
Brodsky said there is still demand for large air conditioned shopping centers in Texas heat, but they must meet modern requirements.
“Today’s consumer has to have more reason to come to the mall than just get a pair of pants because you can do that online. So, it’s about creating events. It’s about creating an atmosphere where people want to be,” he said.
The Dallas City Council Economic Development Committee voted five to one to recommend the plan for a full city council vote next month.
Council member Carolyn King Arnold voted no.
She complained Brodsky’s proposals lack enough detail to give residents a clear picture of what the city money will buy.
“We sound like we’re on a bullet train, no conductor, no passengers,” Arnold said.
Committee Chairman Rickey Callahan said Brodsky won’t get the money until all the details are ironed out.
“It’s a performance deed of trust. It’s not just a giveaway. They have to do things,” Callahan said.
Councilman Erik Wilson, whose District 8 includes the mall site, praised the effort Brodsky has made already to hear from neighbors after several past plans went nowhere.
“What I appreciate most is his desire to connect with the community,” Wilson said.
Brodsky said community input will continue and he offered to meet with Arnold to satisfy her concerns.
“This is not going to be a one man show,” he said.
People at the mall Monday were pleased by the promises.
Stevonne Owens helps her daughter run Lujy’z soul food, a business that just moved into the mall’s food court four months ago.
“I was a little girl when they put the mall here and now I’m in my 50’s. So, I’ve seen it go through some things, but it’s coming back slowly,” she said. “We need this mall in the community because a lot of us can’t go out to Arlington to shop, or get way out to NorthPark.”
Jayron “Fresco” Hobbs visited the mall with two friends Monday to make music with a laptop computer.
“I know it’s kind of dead, but it used to be a great mall,” he said. “It’s still a community, whether you see it or not.”