If a developer’s ambitious plans come to fruition, North DeKalb Mall will look drastically different by the end of this decade.

The 77-acre property would no longer be a mostly vacant mall, a remnant of times when big box stores and chain retail stores drew massive crowds of shoppers. Instead, it would become the latest mixed-use community in metro Atlanta catering toward younger crowds with a focus on walkability and living where you eat and shop.

Edens, which acquired the mall last year, gave a community presentation Tuesday evening that showed renderings and site plans for their redevelopment vision. In addition to nearly 2,000 residential units and more than a half a million square feet of retail and office space, the mall will get a new name.

“We can definitively say there will be a new name,” Herbert Ames, senior vice president and southeast regional lead for Edens, said during the virtual community meeting. “We don’t know what that is yet.”

The real estate company, which developed Atlanta’s West Village community and North Druid Hill’s Toco Hills mall, confirmed plans to preserve the AMC theater and surrounding mall infrastructure. The mall will reduce in size, but Ames called that area the “heart and soul of the project.”

A grocery store — an aspect teased in preliminary site plans shown during previous closed-door meetings — was also confirmed. Several attendees mentioned support for Trader Joe’s to become the site’s grocery store, but Ames said they can’t name specific tenants yet.

“There are several conversation on the grocery front,” he said. “...We’re very excited about those prospects, but it’s a little too early to speak specifics about specific retailers.”

Den Webb, an attorney representing Edens, said more than 180 people participated in the meeting. Many asked questions about the project’s residential aspects, such as whether it would set aside more affordable units for working-class residents — often defined as cops, teachers and firefighters.

“The metrics are still to be determined, but there will be a workforce housing component to this development,” Webb said.

Commissioner Jeff Rader recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that affordability is an important consideration when developing this project. The developer’s plan includes 1,700 multi-family apartment units and 100 townhomes.

“Increasingly, people of limited means have to travel long distances to get to the jobs that they do,” Rader said during a Jan. 26 phone call. “We really feel as though if you are working in a business that serves me, you ought to have the option of living in the same community.”

Webb said they anticipate the mixed-use community won’t be a major draw for parents of school-age children. The DeKalb County School District — along with other large stakeholders like Emory University, MARTA and the PATH Foundation — will be part of rezoning and development conversations, he added.

“These types of multifamily developments have a draw primarily for younger folks,” Webb said. “Single professionals, new couples without children and older folks who want to change their lifestyle.”

The other major components of the project include 300,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 150-room hotel. Roughly 25% of the site will be preserved as greenspace or will incorporate walking paths.

Webb said he planned to file rezoning plans with the county Wednesday. In addition, the developer completed a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) application last month, which is required for gigantic projects that will affect more than just the city or county where the project is located.

The developer aims to begin construction in early 2023 and complete the first aspects of the project — primarily the retail, office and hotel components — by 2025. The rest of the project, including residential units, is expected to be finished by 2030, meaning the entire project is on an eight-year-long timeline.

“It’s important to emphasize that Edens is a long-term holder,” Webb said. “They’re going to acquire this property, they’re going to develop this property and they’re going to own, operate and manage it for the long term.”