Venture capital firm purchases Stonecrest mall, announces wide variety of plans

The Mall at Stonecrest. (VIA CITY OF STONECREST)

The Mall at Stonecrest. (VIA CITY OF STONECREST)

A venture capital firm from Florida announced that it bought The Mall at Stonecrest roughly a year after the mall faced foreclosure.

Hallmark Venture Group, Inc., based in Boca Raton, Florida, announced Monday that it “acquired” the mall, according to a news release. It did not elaborate on the sale of the 29-acre property located at 2929 Turner Hill Road, which, according to county records, is appraised at $84 million.

Citing “positive cash flow” and low interest rates, the firm said it “intends to transform the mall and surrounding land,” the release said. The firm lays out a lofty vision for the site, including a sports and entertainment complex, space for an aquarium, a cosmetics superstore, an apartment complex and other projects.

The release didn’t provide further details on those plans, so it’s unclear if action has been taken to make those developments a reality. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reached out to Hallmark Venture Group and Stonecrest city officials for more detail but didn’t hear back before publication.

“The challenges posed by e-commerce will require us to maintain an aggressive marketing campaign focusing on a trade area of approximately 750,000 retail customers, and attract tenants who can meet the challenges of today’s evolving economy,” John Murphy, executive vice president of Hallmark Venture Group, said in the release.

The mall, which consists of 1.2-million square feet of commercial space, teetered on the edge of foreclosure in February 2020. The mall has had issues with debt since 2013, but Mayor Jason Lary previously said that, “Foreclosure is a financial process. It’s not a death sentence.”

Traditional shopping malls and retail centers have fallen on hard times as online shopping and e-commerce have become more prevalent. Several other metro Atlanta malls, such as Southlake and Gwinnett Place, went into foreclosure yet remained open for business.

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help matters for brick-and-mortar stores, but Hallmark Venture Group claims The Mall at Stonecrest’s activity only dipped slightly.

“Despite the lockdown and occupancy restrictions imposed on all businesses as a result of COVID-19 and e-commerce competition, Stonecrest has maintained a mall shop occupancy rate of over 90%.,” the release said.

The firm’s ambitious development ideas bring up comparisons to the Atlanta Sports City project, which failed in 2019. Lawsuits against the project’s developers put an end to the project, which was pitched as a destination with dozens of sports fields, shops and restaurants.

Philanthropist and businessman Lecester “Bill” Allen is now working on his own large development project, the New Black Wall Street Market, which is poised for a soft opening near the mall at the end of May.

Hallmark Venture Group added that Urban Retail Properties, LLC, which has managed the mall since 2012, will continue to manage, lease and develop the mall’s property.