Local News

South Square Mall Struggles To Stay In Business

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DURHAM, N.C. — With the opening of new malls like Triangle Town Center and the Streets at Southpoint, it is making it difficult for the older, smaller malls to stay open. Durham's South Square Mall opened almost 30 years ago and was once a thriving shopping outlet, but some would say the old mall is not what it used to be.

South Square Mall is a shadow of its former self with deserted parking lots and empty storefronts. This week, one of the major stores, Dillards, pulled out. Monica Lucas missed out on some of the store's last-minute sales and will miss the convenience of the mall.

"Now all these new malls are opening up, the old ones are shutting down, and it's making it even further for us to travel," she said.

In the mid- to late-90s, there were three major department stores at South Square Mall, along with 90 smaller shops. Now, there are only a handful left.

Most of the shops moved on to newer and bigger malls like The Streets At Southpoint. Commercial real estate agents do not see much of a future for South Square Mall, but they say the 50 acres it sits on is prime real estate.

"It's got great access to Durham and to Chapel Hill. It's sitting in the catbird seat as far as redevelopment activity," real estate broker Jerry Gamble said.

For now, mall walkers pretty much have the place to themselves.

"There's no business out here, so we're free to walk," Lucas said.

As for the six remaining stores, one store is heading out this week while others have leases running through 2005. The mall owners who are located in Charlotte were unavailable for comment. A spokesperson for the company that manages the mall said there are no immediate plans to close South Square Mall.