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by Maria Halkias
DallasNews.com

There are a few things you can count on at Southwest Center Mall. Unfortunately, one of them is turmoil.

The center formerly known as Red Bird Mall has been mired in difficulties for years – multiple owners, foreclosures and bankruptcies. One Dallas mayor after another has tried to be a catalyst for change, but it’s been a tough political battle with strong opinions from the community at large.

Now Southwest Center has a new owner and manager. It’s for sale again and about to go under the microscope.

In mid-June, nine property development experts will descend on the aging mall for an intense week of study. Two weeks before landing in Dallas, panel members will get a huge briefing book from the Dallas Economic Development office.

They will tour the area surrounding the mall and interview more than 150 tenants and shoppers. By the end of this week, the panel will present its recommendations to city officials, who hired the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research group in Washington, D.C., to conduct a $120,000 review for the best use of the property.

Tenants say they’re ready for change and recognition. The 1.1 million-square-foot mall is anchored by Macy’s, Sears and Burlington Coat Factory. A few national chains such as Champs Sports, Athlete’s Foot and Kids Footlocker have stayed. The J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward stores closed in 2001. Dillard’s closed in 2007 and just hired the Weitzman Group to market the two-level space.

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