Monday, June 6, 2016

Southwest Center/Red Bird Mall Dallas Texas 2015

Southwest Center/Red Bird Mall in Southwest Dallas opened in 1975 and enjoyed many years of success. The mall was anchored by Sears, JCPenney, Sanger-Harris, and Titche's with a later Montgomery Ward addition. Sears is the last original anchor, JCPenney closed in 2001 and was demolished. Dillard's closed in 2007 and was partially renovated for reuse as a multi-use development but stalled. Montgomery Ward closed with the bankruptcy of the chain and was reopened as a Burlington Coat Factory with very little changes made to the building. Sanger-Harris became Foley's and then Macy's in 2006 along with the rest of the chain. Titche's became Joske's and then Dillard's in the late 80's. The mall had a major renovation and expansion in the mid 1990's. The mall has struggled for many years due to competition, a perception of crime, and stagnant nearby residential development. The previous ownership stabilized and made minor improvements to the mall in the late 00's. A local owner purchased the mall building, Dillard's building, and JCPenney land in 2015. The new owner obtained funding from the city to help redevelop the property as long as he invests at least 15 million in improvements by 2019. 
One side of Sears along with the attached auto center.
The Burlington was one of the newer Wards stores built in the 1990's as part of a major expansion and renovation of the mall.
The mall just stops where the JCPenney used to stand.
The empty plot of land where JCPenney used to stand.
Food court entrance.
Macy's with the old Sanger-Harris exterior design.
Sears and the mall entrance.
The mall map
A look over the wall of the closed off portion of the mall. Past the staircase was the entrance to JCPenney which closed over 10 years ago. The second floor in the former JCPenney corridor is still open with the Food court and several more stores. 
Looking at the end of the mall toward the center court.
Old school neon with mirrors 
The center court of the mall.
One of the skylights and openings to view the first floor.
One of the mall maps with the logo of the mall.
The food court.
Near the food court.
More views of the center court and the Macy's anchor.
On the first floor, you can see the wall that blocks the corridor leading to the former JCPenney.
The first floor entrance to Burlington.
A vacant storefront on the second level.
A large recently updated Foot Locker.
The Sears and Burlington wing of the mall, second level.
The Burlington was built as a Montgomery Ward store, one of the few new stores the company built in the 1990's.
Looking back towards the mall from the Sears court.
A look inside of Sears.
The entrance to the former Dillard's anchor.
One of the largest Jimmy Jazz stores.


  1. Wow, this is a tremendously retro mall. I really did not know much about this mall before you posted about it, thanks for the pictures and information. It certainly seems like a 1980s time warp inside this mall, but the artwork in some of the more “popular” common areas of the mall are kind of like what West Oaks Mall and Memorial City Mall have done with the Texas themed artwork. Well, at least they don’t have any Mall of the Mainland-like odd postcards on the wall or fake storefronts.

    It’s hard to tell, but it looks like the Sears store may have some retro elements too from the picture of the mall entrance (which is one of the more basic Sears mall entrances I’ve seen for a store that size). The Burlington Coat Factory/ex-Montgomery Ward building actually looks pretty nice on the outside.

    1. It is strange that the day after I posted this article, photos of the new concept for the property were revealed. In the photos, most of the existing mall is demolished for an open air mixed use concept. I think the murals were painted during the prior ownership when Boxer was managing the property but I am not 100% sure. The first floor of the mall between Sears and Macy's is nearly full. The center court and former JCPenney corridor second level are about half full. The second floor from the center court to Sears has a lot of vacancies and is probably less than 50% occupied. The mall had good foot traffic during lunch time on a weekday.

      The Montgomery Ward store is very nice compared to any other store I have seen. The Sears store has some retro features, but the store is in good shape for as old as it is.

    2. This must have been one of the last, if not the last, Montgomery Wards ever built. I wonder what it looked like inside when it was a Wards. Perhaps it looked something like the Willowbrook Mall store after the 1990s renovations, but even the Willowbrook store had some 1970s/early 1980s design themes that this Wards almost certainly wouldn't have had.

      The Sears electronics department seems a bit odd in that the TV section seems somewhat separated from the rest of the electronics department. Granted, with all the downsizing, they may be able to put the whole thing in the TV area. It's good to hear that the store is in good shape.

      It's sad to hear the plans to demolish the mall in favor of an open-air development, but I can't say that I'm surprised. Well, hopefully the new concept will lead to the property being more successful if nothing else.

    3. From what little I saw of the Wards store, it had the same color scheme of Greenspoint and Willowbrook. I did not know what the anchor was until I looked it up online. I suspected it was a former Wards, but the outside of the store is very nice unlike most Montgomery Wards.

      They did a very good job of consolidating the electronics at that location. I don't know how much more they lost with the 2016 product reset, but they did not have any extra space in 2015. Some of the smaller one story Sears stores are down to an aisle or two of electronics now. The electronics department is on the second floor here.

      The previous owners of the mall which has frequently changed hands since the late 90's have tried many ideas to help revitalize the mall. A lot of new retail has opened up nearby that has hurt the mall. Keep in mind that the Six Flags Mall is about a 15 minute ride away. Both malls were hurt by the newer large Parks at Arlington Mall that also killed the Forum 303 Mall. The best chance to bring the property back is to keep the anchors and build everything else new. This site has the potential to be like the City Centre development here in Houston.

      There is a rumor that the Burlington will not last much longer and will move to a different location soon. If that happens the property will have more space to redevelop with only the Sears and Macys which are close together remaining.

  2. There was an identical Montgomery Ward that also now is Burlington at Fairgrounds Square Mall in Reading, PA. The Kmart across the street is in the process of closing right now and being a more modern Kmart (opened 1992), I have a feeling Walmart might open at the site. If not maybe Sam's Club, Costco, BJ's, Home Depot, or Lowe's will take it.

    1. The Fairgrounds Square Mall appears to be struggling with a very small interior store list for a lot of space. The anchors are in much better shape with all spots except for one filled. Did a nearby shopping hotspot pull the market share away or did the mall fall on hard times due to age and anchor losses?

    2. The Fairgrounds Square Mall appears to be struggling with a very small interior store list for a lot of space. The anchors are in much better shape with all spots except for one filled. Did a nearby shopping hotspot pull the market share away or did the mall fall on hard times due to age and anchor losses?

    3. I live over an hour away from Reading and am not too familiar with the area, but I do know sadly Reading has been ranked both the poorest city and the most dangerous city in the nation. The area around the mall is what I would call a "yellow light" area as far as safety goes. That area's lucky it hasn't ended up like the area around Dixie Square Mall which I would say is the "ultimate retail graveyard" in the USA. Such a shame that mall died so young. It intrigues me to guess how that mall would have evolved had it stayed open. I would imagine it would have seen a major remodel and at least a few new tenants arriving in the 80's if it had survived into the 80's. The whole neighborhood around the mall I would guess would have seen a lot of new retail popping up in the 80's.

      Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing (five miles or so away from Fairgrounds Square) is a much nicer mall in a much better area. Wyomissing is the undisputed "retail capital" of Berks County (of which Reading is the county seat) that I would say has certainly overtaken the area around Fairgrounds Square.

    4. It is a shame that the city has so many problems. From the online photos, it looks like a nice place. Some of the nicest looking cities here in the South such as New Orleans and Natchitoches have very high crime rates and high unemployment.

      Fairgrounds Mall looks like it is a larger mall than the Berkshire Mall, but being in a safer area is what draws shoppers.