Dan Reigada's Commentary

Posted January 10, 2006 (user submitted)

I moved to Durham, NC in 2001. At that time, the city had 2 existing malls; Northgate and South Square. Under construction, at the time, was a third mall, the new behemoth called "The Streets at Southpoint". I really didnt go to South Square mall. I'm a bookstore fanatic and they didnt have a decent one at South Square so I didnt go much. It was a 2 level mall, with some enclosed parking on the outside. It was your basic mid-market mall. Im sure others around Durham know much more about the history of the mall than I do, since I moved here in 2001. I read that the mall opened in 1975, and it seemed to do a pretty good business when I first moved here. I remember that in May 2001 there was a shooting at the mall which was on the news. I'm sure that that incident only helped to seal the fate of this mall.

In March 2002, the Streets at Southpoint Mall opened about 6 miles away. It was bigger, fancier, and much more upscale. Soon after that, South Square quickly emptied out. It was demolished in 2003 (I believe). When I heard it was about to be demolished, I stopped by one last time to check out the empty mall.

South Square was not allowed to be a dead mall for long. After the demolition, a Super Target, Sam's club, and Ross (among others) opened on the site of the former South Square Mall. It had a great location, right on busy US 15-501, between downtown Durham and Chapel Hill. The site is now thriving probably more so than when the mall was still viable. The only traces of the mall are the Office Depot and Firestone, which used to surround the mall and are still there, built in the same style as the old mall.

Northgate mall is still doing good business it is on the north side of town and was not as affected by the opening of the Streets at Southpoint. In my opinion,the South Square mall was a victim of the increasing affluence and good economy of the area. Durham used to be a center of the tobacco industry, but it is now becoming a suburb of Research Triangle Park. Plus there are several major universities (UNC, Duke) in the area with major hospitals. With all of the wealthy newcomers to the area, I suppose that the powers that be determined that Durham could support a more upscale mall with stores like Neiman Marcus. And that was all she wrote for the old mall.

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