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Shoppers Celebrate March Madness With Opening Of Streets At Southpoint

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DURHAM, N.C. — Shoppers celebrated their own form of "march madness" with the official opening of Durham's new mall, The Streets At Southpoint.

Shoppers lined up early Friday morning, hoping to be among the first to see the mega mall.

The Streets At Southpoint is a 1.3 million square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment destination. There are more than 6,000 parking spaces and more than 140 shops and restaurants.

Twenty-five of the stores and restaurants are making their North Carolina debut, including the state's first Nordstrom department store.

Main Street encompasses more than 200,000 square feet and is an outdoor, open-air area featuring several eateries, popular retailers, and a 16-screen megaplex movie theatre.

For many stores, it was a race to the finish to be ready for the 10 a.m. opening. Employees worked through the night, making the final touches in the final hours before the grand opening.

"All the elves come in in the middle of the night and put everything up, and it comes together," marketing manager Jeff Johnson said.

Two eateries in the food court are on the short list of merchants not opening Friday. They expect to open next week.

The Streets at Southpoint

is located off Interstate 40

in Durham at the Fayetteville Road exit.

It is estimated that as many as 140,000 people will visit the mall on Friday, creating the potential for some major traffic hassles.

Mall planners worked with the city and the DOT to widen the I-40 overpass at Fayetteville Road and create a Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) at the exit ramp.

DOT crews were on hand Friday to help keep traffic moving. In fact, the mall's grand opening is one of the DOT's biggest projects and has been a month in planning.

Durham police are ready, too. To handle the overflow of traffic on Friday, 42 police officers and 12 sheriff's deputies will be assigned to four intersections, as well as the mall's entrances and exits.

For those who want to avoid driving and parking hassles, DATA buses have added a mall run which leaves on the half-hour between 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from the downtown Durham terminal.

The TTA will start running buses to the mall on March 18.

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