New agreement in place to buy West End mall

The exterior of The Mall West End in Atlanta’s West End community, Wednesday, August 25, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

The exterior of The Mall West End in Atlanta’s West End community, Wednesday, August 25, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

A developer that has specialized in projects in low-income areas of New York has reached an agreement to purchase The Mall West End.

Prusik Group, headquartered in New York, signed a contract within the past week to buy the southwest Atlanta property, the firm’s co-founder said Friday. Prusik began conducting due diligence on the 12-acre site and the 1972 mall building earlier this month.

The deal follows the exit of another New York-area development firm, Tishman Speyer, which earlier this year reached its own agreement to buy and redevelop The Mall West End. Before pulling out, Tishman had planned to partner with Atlanta developer Elevator City Partners on remaking The Mall West End into a 1.3 million square-foot mix of shops, offices, apartments and a hotel.

Andrew Katz, co-founder and principal of Prusik, said Friday that his firm’s specific plans for The Mall West End are still being formulated. Katz stressed that his company has completed several projects in low-income neighborhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx in New York.

“We respect the history and importance of” The Mall West End, Katz said in an interview.

Prusik will release more details later, such as its financial and real estate partners, and the purchase price, he said.

Charles Taylor, co-owner of The Mall West End, said he “looks forward to a community-focused redevelopment that is going to preserve and not displace local residences or businesses.”

Prusik will conduct extensive community engagement with members of the West End neighborhood, but only after Prusik completes environmental and engineering studies of the existing mall building, Katz said.

“Nothing will be done without engaging the community,” he said.

A group of West End neighborhood organizations sent Prusik a letter on Thursday expressing concerns about the lack of community engagement. Two of the letter’s authors, Walter Slaton of Neighborhood Planning Unit-T and Tony McNeal of West End Neighborhood Development, had not responded to requests for comment as of Friday afternoon.

Katz said that he wants existing mall tenants to know that he will work with them to remain in business at the mall while due diligence is performed, and that he wants to retain those on solid financial footing at any new development.

Several attempts to redevelop The Mall West End have fallen short over the past several years. The property has generated heavy interest from developers due to its location near the Beltline walking path, the Atlanta University Center colleges and a MARTA rail station.

The Mall West End is located in a federally designated Opportunity Zone, which provides tax credits for development projects in low-income neighborhoods.