By Cris Patrick
You see a local mall going under, and you have no money, and no financial backing to do anything about it. You’re outmanned and out-financed, but you still want to stay and fight. What would you do? One man took a stand; one man couldn’t be moved and wouldn’t back down without a fight.
Donald Jackson saw Brookdale mall in Brooklyn Center slowly becoming a vast empty space. Most people would just look at it and go, “Oh well, it is what it is.” But Jackson (DJ)dreamed big and executed even bigger by wanting to turn the down and out mall into a video and motion picture studio, complete with retail shopping and a community center.
Although he was not able to see his vision come to light due to a lack of money and financial backing. He did, however, have a video camera, recorded it all, and made a documentary about his journey entitled Poor No More Because of Brookdale, which premiered at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis.
MSR: Who is DJ?
DJ: I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I have three sons, and three grandsons. I come from a family of eight. I have a huge ambition to become a multi-millionaire.
MSR: What is your professional background?
DJ: I have a background in real estate; I was an investor for about six years then acquired my [real estate] license. I was also a mortgage originator, and at one time owned about $3.5 million in assets of real estate.
MSR: What happened there?
DJ: Well, you know the market changed, the bubble burst, and I had to go look at other options… I had a vision — or premonition if you will — to look at Brookdale as being the next movie production entertainment complex.
MSR: Why Brookdale?
DJ: [The] Brookdale [site] has been an ongoing concern for the community and the city of Brooklyn Center. [People were asking], “What’s going to happen to that mall?” On the other side there’s been hundreds, thousands, and possibly millions of people who have fond memories of Brookdale. So I thought that if we could purchase the property and turn it into a partially community-involved complex for the entertainment industry, it would benefit the community and create jobs for people interested in the film and entertainment industries.
MSR: A partially community-involved entertainment complex — can you elaborate more on that?
DJ: Basically, we wanted to continue to have retail there that would allow community businesses to have a place in the mall connecting with other businesses and having an understanding that we would all support each other. We know that businesses are hard to maintain sometimes, and being under one roof we could kind of [make it easier for businesses to] look out for each other, and in essence create a community concept.
MSR: With the community concept, what about the anchor stores. Were you going to keep the anchor stores? Did you talk to any of the anchor stores such as Sears, Macy’s, or JC Penney?
DJ: Yeah. JC Penney had moved out a long time ago — around 2005 — so they were no longer in the picture… Sears was kind of their own entity; they were part of the mall [physically], but they were kind of a stand alone. They weren’t really affected by [what was going on with the rest of] the mall
MSR: When you made the attempt to acquire Brookdale, what kind of backing did you have?
DJ: You know, as a real estate agent, I had some monies that were coming in from some rental properties… but at the time I didn’t have any backing support at all financially from any other entity.
MSR: So you were one guy going after the big guys.
MSR: So what happened?
DJ: There had to be a plan overall of what would take place in Brookdale, so a lot of my time went into putting a plan together… One of the ways we were looking to generate money was to create a movie project that would tell a story and hopefully be of interest to where people would come out and support [it]. Part of the plan also was [to] identify a recording artist that we could promote [and] create sales from their music that would also play a part in purchasing the mall.
MSR: We know now that when you go to the Brookdale site, some of it’s been torn down; we know now that a Walmart is there now. Would you say that you lost the battle?
DJ: We’re releasing the movie… the dream is always there if you continue to go for it and you continue to dream, so I don’t think I lost the battle. I didn’t get [to purchase] Brookdale, [but] there’s other malls out there.
MSR: So tell us about the movie
DJ: … This is more of a documentary story of my journey in acquiring Brookdale, and some of the trials and tribulations that I had to go through, and what brought me through it, so it’s my story that I want to share with the world and people who are trying to take on projects of the same nature.
MSR: What’s next for DJ?
DJ: Well what’s next is to take this movie documentary around the world to be seen and appreciated, instilling hope and faith into people, get the money and come back and buy a mall.
MSR: Is there a way to get in touch with you if anybody wants to contact you or help you out?
DJ: Www.impoornomore.com — that’s the website.
MSR: Thanks a lot, and good luck.
DJ: Thank you.
Cris Patrick welcomes reader responses at LTA_79@hotmail.com