Developer aims to transform North DeKalb Mall into mixed-use attraction

The now-closed Macy's North DeKalb Mall store on January 7, 2015.

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The now-closed Macy's North DeKalb Mall store on January 7, 2015.

The redevelopment plan for a struggling — and mostly empty — mall in north DeKalb County has now been revealed.

Real estate developer Edens, which purchased the North DeKalb Mall last year, filed a rezoning application for a transformative and massive mixed-use project. While the application includes scant details, its goals for the 77-acre property include a hotel, close to 2,000 residential units and more than half a million square feet of retail and office space.

The information was included in a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) application filed last week by Edens and Jim McKenney, the company’s vice president of construction. These applications are necessary for gigantic projects that will affect an entire region — not just the city or county where the project is located.

The development project aims to feature 300,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 150-room hotel. The project vision also includes 1,700 multi-family apartment units and 100 townhomes.

Edens representatives declined to comment about the redevelopment vision for the mall, which is just west of Clarkston and north of Decatur.

North DeKalb Mall, which has several vacant storefronts, has become more well-known as a filming location than as a thriving retail center. The mall’s previous owner, Sterling Organization, put the property up for sale in May, and Edens acquired the property by September. Neither company divulged sale details.

The DRI application is the first big announcement for the floundering mall since 2018, when Sterling filed similar rezoning paperwork as part of a vision to redesign the mall around a Costco, hotel and new housing units. Those plans were abandoned.

DeKalb commissioners previously told the AJC that it’s important for a quality project to transform the mall, given its size and potential.

“We consider it to be a very important site in DeKalb,” Commissioner Jeff Rader said last May. “It’s a very large tract of land that you don’t usually get for development in an urban area like this.”

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Other malls in metro Atlanta are having to pivot amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of e-commerce.

North Point Mall in Alpharetta, which also changed management in 2021, is pursuing an open-air, mixed-use concept for the 44-acre shopping center. Its project would include dozens of townhomes, roughly 650 apartments, a 150-unit hotel and hundreds of thousands of square feet of office, medical, retail and restaurant space.

Other metro Atlanta malls, including the Gallery at South DeKalb and The West End Mall, also changed hands last year and are ripe for redevelopment. In addition, Northlake Mall in Tucker is pivoting to an office-focused business model.

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Edens’ website describes the firm as a retail real estate owner, operator and developer with a portfolio of more than 100 places. Among nine properties it lists in the Atlanta metro area are Buckhead Marketplace on West Paces Ferry Road; Toco Hills on North Druid Hills Road; Merchants Walk on Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta and Brookwood Village on Peachtree Road.

The DRI application, which is now under the review and consideration of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, estimates the project will be completed by 2028.

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