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B'klyn mall's got a biz-y first day

Brooklyn shoppers rejoiced at their slice of suburbia yesterday, as throngs packed the new Atlantic Terminal mall for the kind of shopping that used to be a long car ride away.

The borough's first new indoor mall in three decades was jammed with a cross-section of Brooklyn's diversity - Orthodox Jews and Caribbean immigrants shopped alongside tattooed hipsters and stroller-pushing mothers.

The mall, at Atlantic and Flatbush Aves., sits on a once-dilapidated site and has been hailed as a way to pump money and jobs into Brooklyn.

Developer Bruce Ratner is now pressing for approval to build a controversial $2.5 billion complex nearby that would include a 20,000-seat arena for the Nets basketball team.

"It might take away a little bit of the small-town character of Brooklyn, but I'm glad it's here," said Aisha Gayle, a 23-year-old grad student from nearby Boerum Hill.

Shoppers streamed across the landscaped plaza of the $120 million complex, clutching bags from stores like Pathmark, Discount Shoe Warehouse and Daffy's.

But the biggest draw seemed to be Target, the discount retailer with hipster cred and low-price appeal. All 42 registers were open, all 750 red shopping carts were in use, and entire aisles had been swept clean of merchandise.

Target manager Marcus Lewis said it was the best-performing store in the entire chain this weekend.

"It's excellent," said pregnant Tracey Heaton, 35, ofPark Slope, who was able to put her shopping cart on aspecial escalator as she juggled her 2-year-old daughter, Katie.

Originally published on July 26, 2004

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