North DeKalb Mall sold for potential mixed-use redevelopment

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC file photo

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC file photo

A real estate developer recently purchased a floundering mall in north DeKalb County, which will likely be transformed into a mixed-use development.

Herbert Ames, senior vice president of development for Edens, confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his company acquired North DeKalb Mall. He wouldn’t provide further details on the sale or the company’s plans for the property, but he teased to a transformative project on the horizon for the large swath of land.

“For more than 50 years, north DeKalb has enjoyed a great history of commerce and a tradition of bringing people together,” Herbert said in a statement. “It is an honor to be its next steward, a pivotal role with considerable responsibility to transform a 77-acre infill site. We look forward to dialogue with the community as we look to reshape this place for the next 50 years.”

Kathryn Zickert, an attorney who represents Edens, said she’ll handle any upcoming rezoning applications for the property. She said the company hasn’t developed a site plan yet, which will prompt the specifics of the rezoning request.

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 two DeKalb commissioners said they expected the land to become a sprawling mixed-use development. Sterling did not respond to requests for comment before publication.

Sterling announced plans in 2018 to redesign the mall around a Costco, hotel and new housing units. The company filed paperwork to try to rezone the 77-acre property, but that vision was abandoned, according to commissioners Jeff Rader and Ted Terry.

Both commissioners said they expect the large property to include a hearty residential component, while attempting to reinvigorate retail interest in the area, which is just west of Clarkston’s city limits. Rader said it’s a rare opportunity for a developer to completely transform an area.

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

Edens’ website describes the firm as a retail real estate owner, operator and developer with a portfolio of over 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.

Other malls in metro Atlanta are having to pivot amid the COVID-19 pandemic and changing trends among shoppers, given the rise of e-commerce.

North Point Mall in Alpharetta, which changed management earlier this year, is pursuing an open-air, mixed-use concept for the 44-acre shopping center. According to documents filed with the Atlanta Regional Commission, 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.