DeKalb OKs tax allocation district for North DeKalb Mall redevelopment

The reimagination of the North DeKalb Mall area is seemingly poised to get a significant financial assist.

DeKalb County commissioners on Tuesday approved the creation of a new tax allocation district, or TAD, surrounding the site, which has languished for years but has a new owner that plans to turn it into a revitalized hub for retail, residential and office activity.

As large projects like that progress, TADs essentially capture the resulting increase in property tax revenues and funnel them back into the designated area instead of the county at-large. The money is then used to pay for public infrastructure and other amenities serving the bigger redevelopment (or, in the case of things like traffic, mitigating its impacts).

It’s a sometimes controversial but commonly used tactic by local governments seeking to spur development in otherwise beleaguered areas.

The so-called “Market Square” TAD will be DeKalb County’s fourth.

“Our vision is to encourage redevelopment of outdated commercial areas into modern uses for this district,” Dorian DeBarr, president of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority, said in a news release.

Credit: Edens

Credit: Edens

The total TAD area includes the entire mall site, which sits just east of Decatur, about two miles inside I-285 near the nexus of U.S. 78 and Lawrenceville Highway. It also branches north along North Druid Hills Road, Lawrenceville Highway and into the Laurel Ridge area; south near the county’s Little Creek Horse Farm and Park; and west to include Medlock Park and some of the surrounding area.

The latter areas are included with the idea of “adding multi-use paths and connectivity,” according to county documents.

In total, the TAD area is about 323 acres. Millions of dollars are potentially at play and other potential uses include transportation enhancements, affordable housing programs, and parks and recreation facilities, officials said.

County commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents the area, said he hopes TAD funding will “address longstanding deficiencies that have prevented development from happening there before.”

Credit: SPECIAL PHOTO

Credit: SPECIAL PHOTO

Developer Edens, meanwhile, plans to demolish a decent chunk of the existing mall — most of which is vacant — and build 80 townhomes, more than 1,500 multifamily units and a 150-room hotel. About 320,000 square feet of retail space and 180,000 square feet of office space would also be included.

Decide DeKalb documents suggested the project would be built in five phases, starting next year and ending in 2029.

“We are excited to partner with DeKalb County and Decide DeKalb in this effort to revitalize and reinvigorate the spirit of what North DeKalb Mall has meant to the community,” Edens executive Herbert Ames said in a news release.