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I'm no grade-A shopper, so this might sound a little ignorant to readers who own one or more credit cards, but what in the hell happened to NorthPark Center? I drove up on Saturday to get my once-every-six-months clothes-shopping expedition out of the way, so I figured I'd pop in, visit the mall's least offensive/overpriced shops (read: not Lucky Brand) and be on my way to thrift stores that better fit my wallet's boundaries.

But I took a wrong turn at the Foley's entrance and happened upon the mall's entire new wing, complete with a second floor. Huh? I'd just been here in December for last-minute Christmas shopping and had no idea a super-sized expansion was afoot (again, I'm no grade-A shopper or D magazine reader). Lots of the new shops still weren't open, but a few debuted on Friday; between Urban Outfitters, the Apple Store, Build-A-Bear (that place is cree-ee-eepy, by the way) and GameStop, the whole scene seemed like an attempt to hip up the joint and attract spoiled teens who scoff at department stores. And then I went up the new wing's escalator... and saw a food court. A food court in NorthPark? That's like putting a Neiman Marcus in Valley View, isn't it? Granted, the restaurants hadn't yet opened, and the food selection was relatively yuppie-friendly (Which Wich?, Panda Express), but I still had to double-check that a Gadzooks hadn't opened down the hall.

Most astounding was the fact that NorthPark has a movie theater again. George Lucas' favorite two screens in Texas are long gone, and in their place is the AMC's new 15-screen stadium-seating extravaganza that will open semi-officially for the USA Film Festival on April 28. There's a soft opening on Thursday for invited guests--and we'll be there, damn right--but the public will have to wait until May 5 to try out the automated ticketing kiosks and LoveSeat�-style seating.

The question, then, is whether the NP makeover will attract the kids who've left to shop at places like Mockingbird Station instead. My grade-F shopper guess? Not until NP opens a SSW franchise. --Sam Machkovech

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