Declining State of NorthPark Center: Public Places Are Not the Problem. A CandysDirt Guest Post

Published January 18, 2012 by Candy Evans

Last week, bogus emails were decrying the declining state of NorthPark Center, where “gangs are proliferating”. One was apparently not so bogus. This email alleged that a gang beat up a Dallas Academy student near NorthPark last week, and also, sadly, that the manager of Macy’s NorthPark store refused to provide help when the bloodied teen’s friends brought him inside the store to clean him up.

Turns out, there was an assault on Jan. 2. According to Dallas police, “20 to 40″ people beat up a 17-year-old boy and two others in a parking lot in the 9100 block of North Central Expressway, near NorthPark Center. The boy is a student at Dallas Academy. NorthPark issued a statement through Androvett Media acknowledging the incident, but said the Macy’s staff DID help the child: “Macy’s staff responded professionally and compassionately in assisting this young man by calling 911 and contacting the Dallas Police Department.” I was out of town during all this, so asked Kersten Rettig to chime in with an excellent point. Rather than charge NorthPark with policing the gangs and threatening boycotts, Kersten asks, where the hell are these kids’ parents? 

The Forward button was on overdrive on keyboards across Dallas last week as concerned parents forwarded an email containing details about a horrific attack against a Dallas teen-aged boy that took place at a shopping center near Northwest Highway and Central Expressway. The email serves as an excellent reminder that, as parents and individuals, we need to be ever vigilant about our surroundings and not take our safety for granted. This email, as well as a flurry of additional emails I’ve received, attacks NorthPark Center management and one of its anchor tenants, Macy’s. The original email states that Macy’s employees refused to help the injured boy and that NorthPark management has refused to allow the media to tell the story. Published responses from NorthPark and Macy’s management refute those claims.

One email I received came from a local Dallas realtor who wrote to NorthPark management suggesting that, if they do not improve security at the shopping center to prevent this kind of criminal activity, the women of the Park Cities who patronize the affluent shopping center will boycott and no longer shop there. In fact, she adds ominously, “greater empires have fallen.”

There’s been a lot of energy devoted to this topic, and not once have I heard or seen anything that recognizes that the problem isn’t public places, it’s the mob of teenagers who assaulted this child. Of course shopping centers and other public places must take reasonable efforts to ensure their guests and employees are safe, but the responsibility ultimately lies with the individual.

This attack could have taken place anywhere. The feeling of powerlessness that incites anger that leads to violence lives inside of people. It’s transient. It goes where they go. Despite the fact that Dallas’ crime rate is at a historical low right now, conditions abound for violent crime to take place; whether at school, a mall, at an 800-square-foot Duncanville apartment or a 6,000 -square-foot Highland Park home.

Maybe the energy spent trying to boycott and cause economic harm to NorthPark Center would be better invested helping at-risk youth and their parents. No one, not NorthPark Center, DISD, DART, not even DPD, can police-away the social ills that cause this kind of behavior.

The problem isn’t public places, it’s private places – it’s in the home. Parents have a duty to instill in children a sense of humanity, self worth, self-discipline, common sense and a basic understanding of right and wrong. If parents are not equipped to do that, then, as a community, we can choose to help them.

Dallas is a great, big city that experiences the same ups and downs that any big city does. NorthPark Center and the surrounding retail and multi-use developments have provided a steady and, in fact, increasing source of value, employment and tax revenue that has benefited the city of Dallas for decades. It’s in our community’s best interest that the area continues to be a safe, successful commercial center of the city.

If this attack upsets you as it has upset so many people in the community, let’s join a productive discussion about ways to stop this behavior rather than slandering the businesses that help Dallas. Let’s honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on what would have been his 83rd birthday week by embracing his mission for non violent social change.

-Kersten Rettig

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at CandysDirt.com