Clarkston proposes doubling its size, absorbing North DeKalb Mall

Clarkston City Hall (ALYSSA POINTER/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)

caption arrowCaption
Clarkston City Hall (ALYSSA POINTER/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)

North DeKalb Mall would become part of the city of Clarkston under a proposal that local officials will take up this week.

The small DeKalb County city is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution asking the Georgia General Assembly to support an annexation proposal that would double the size of the city, expanding its borders to include several neighborhoods. Clarkston, which currently has about 12,700 residents, would expand to the south and east, including parts of the Scottdale neighborhood.

If state lawmakers vote to approve the proposal, residents of the annexed areas would have to OK it through a ballot referendum, possible as early as this November.

caption arrowCaption
The areas outlined in red on this map are the current city limits of Clarkston. The neighborhoods outside of it are targeted for annexation under a recent proposal. That includes North DeKalb Mall, shown in green on the far left side of the map. (City of Clarkston)

The areas outlined in red on this map are the current city limits of Clarkston. The neighborhoods outside of it are targeted for annexation under a recent proposal. That includes North DeKalb Mall, shown in green on the far left side of the map. (City of Clarkston)

caption arrowCaption
The areas outlined in red on this map are the current city limits of Clarkston. The neighborhoods outside of it are targeted for annexation under a recent proposal. That includes North DeKalb Mall, shown in green on the far left side of the map. (City of Clarkston)

“It is an invitation to nearby areas to say that, ‘We would like you to join the city of Clarkston. Let us know what you think,” Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry said Monday.

Terry said the city previously did a broad annexation study that found it could expand — and in turn, grow its tax revenue — while being able to deliver the same level of service to new residents. He said a more focused study on the recent annexation proposal will be conducted this spring. The city is also paying $2,500 to former state senator Doug Stoner, who now works for the firm LD Squared, to lobby for Clarkston in the state Capitol, Terry said.

The city included North DeKalb Mall in its proposal, Terry said, to balance the tax revenue it would get from residential and commercial properties. In recent years, the retail behemoth has become notorious for its emptiness, with about half of the mall's storefronts sitting vacant.

In 2018, the company that owns North DeKalb Mall dropped a proposal for a mixed-use project that would have included a new Costco and 500 multi-family homes and townhouses. Kathy Zickert, a local zoning attorney who represented Sterling on its earlier proposal, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month that last she heard from the owners, they were contemplating trying to sell the mall.

caption arrowCaption
North DeKalb Mall, which sits about half-empty, has gained additional revenue as a site for film productions, turning vacant storefronts into fictional sets. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

North DeKalb Mall, which sits about half-empty, has gained additional revenue as a site for film productions, turning vacant storefronts into fictional sets. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption
North DeKalb Mall, which sits about half-empty, has gained additional revenue as a site for film productions, turning vacant storefronts into fictional sets. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Terry said the city would “be interested in working with the nearby community to come up with the best possible development option that would be good for economic development” at the mall.

The idea to double the size of Clarkston follows a trend. The city — known as the "most diverse square mile in America" — last expanded its boundaries in 2014 and 2015. Brookhaven has annexed neighborhoods south of I-85 in recent years, and the city of Atlanta expanded its borders in 2017 to absorb Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clarkston’s recent annexation proposal includes some neighborhoods that were included in the maps for the prospective city of Greenhaven. Terry said he has had conversations with some of the Greenhaven representatives and asked them to amend their maps that include the areas that Clarkston is eyeing.

The mayor said he has already received some emails from people who are “upset” about the annexation idea, but also from residents who are interested in the proposal.

“You’ve got to start a conversation somewhere,” he said. “This is just the beginning of the conversation.”

Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter 

Wouldn't you like to support our strong journalism? Your subscription helps us cover your communities in a way that no one else can. Visit https://subscribe.ajc.com/hyperlocal or call 404-526-7988 to begin or renew your subscription.

About the Author

Editors' Picks