North DeKalb Mall owners plan to tear it down, build massive project

After years of a slow bleeding of tenants, North DeKalb Mall’s owners are hoping to demolish the development and start over with a huge project, including a Costco, more retail and restaurants, as well as housing and a hotel.

“The mall is coming down in its entirety,” Kathryn Zickert, an attorney for the mall’s owner, Sterling Organization, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In its place, a new project, which will follow the market’s trend toward outdoor, mixed-use developments, will rise. Some existing tenants, including AMC and Burlington Coat Factory, are expected to stay.

It isn’t clear exactly when the demolition and construction could be finished, because Sterling has a long application and design process to go through with DeKalb County and the Atlanta Regional Commission, the attorney said. The ARC must be involved because the project is significant enough to be of regional impact.

The company also has to figure out how to schedule so the remaining tenants can have a smooth transition to their new spaces.

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Sterling has already started meetings with residents in the area. More are expected through the year. It’ll likely be the end of 2018 before the approval process from the county is done, assuming commissioners decide to approve.

The owners have seen the mall fall from prominence, ending up with mostly empty stores. The closure of Macy’s two years ago was a big blow.

But Sterling hopes bending to market trends will help.

“Outdoor malls are back in,” the attorney said. “Indoor malls are almost a thing of the past.”

Residents of the planned multi-family units and townhomes would also be built-in customers.

If approved, the construction would be the latest in a steady clip of development in the area of U.S. 78 running through unincorporated DeKalb. A large mixed-use center has also sprung up at the corner of Church Street, bringing apartments and sizable retail tenants including Sprouts Farmers Market and ALDI grocery.

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