By, Elysse Alvarado
Walk into Southwest Center Mall (or Red Bird Mall as it’s commonly known) on any given day and it is clear to see that this once burgeoning shopping center has lost its spark. With shuttered storefronts and phantom parking lots, it may seem at first glance that there is not much left for visitors to enjoy. But in fact, this mall has flourished into a unique community of its own.
Apart from the few anchor department stores, local businesses are the pulse of what’s left at the mall and what makes it special. Morning walkers make their rounds through the long shopping halls, while store owners set up for the day ahead. And this summer, Red Bird SOARS has returned to provide engaging, summer programming for students. Summer learners are greeted by shop owners as they walk in for camp and the mall itself serves as the backdrop for activities such as photo walks and dance practice. This shopping mall has become more than just a mall, it has evolved into a close-knit community of its own.
This is what happens when organizations and businesses partner together. According to CityLab, partnerships and programming are key to building stronger communities. Big Thought understands that these two factors are also important in cultivating a child’s education.
Looking to the Future
Southwest Center Mall is on the brink of transformation, with a recently approved $22 million city investment in renovating and renewing the shopping complex into a mixture of new retail, office, apartment and hotel space. This is undoubtedly a win for South Dallas that is sure to revitalize the area. But how can we forge ahead in this new chapter of Red Bird’s history and cultivate community while investing in its economic development?
The answer is simple; continue support of city-wide partnerships like Dallas City of Learning that are directly interwoven into neighborhoods. Devoting resources to support creative educational opportunities for students and provide enriching programming alongside new development is what will continue strengthening the South Dallas community and helping the city SOAR.