Tuesday, January 25, 2022

[Déjà Vu] Developer Pitches Mixed-Use Redevelopment of North DeKalb Mall

Stop us if you've heard this before.  The owner of North DeKalb Mall wants to replace the aging suburban shopping center with a large, mixed-use destination.  It may sound familiar but it's EDENS, the real estate firm that purchased North DeKalb Mall this past September, that is now pitching a redevelopment plan that sounds a good bit like the most recent plan pitched by former owner Sterling Organization in 2018.  

EDENS purchased the property from Sterling Organization, a Florida-based real estate firm, for $43 million in September 2021. Sterling had filed plans in early 2018 to turn North DeKalb Mall into a mixed-use site - Decatur Landing - with 425 apartments, 40 to 50 town homes and a 150 key hotel.   In late 2018, Sterling withdrew their rezoning application with their lawyer indicating that "the project has become too expensive to proceed."   

Due to the project’s size - about 76 acres - it will be vetted as a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) by the Atlanta Regional Commission.  EDENS filed preliminary plans with the state January 24.  Those plans indicate that by 2028, EDENS expects to bring 1,700 apartments, 100 townhouses, 300,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space, and a 150-room hotel to the site.   

The DRI program provides for state planning and transportation officials to get involved when a project is large enough to significantly impact local traffic and infrastructure.  DeKalb County commissioners are expected to decide whether or not to rezone the property to "mixed-use" within the next few months.  

EDENS has said that news on their plans for the North DeKalb Mall property will likely come in the next few months, but one interesting piece of chatter we've already heard is that Publix has reportedly expressed interest in being part of the new development to which they would relocate from nearby Shamrock Plaza.  [Publix will soon open a new store at Hugh Howell Marketplace in Tucker which is a replacement for a nearby store at Centre on Hugh Howell.] 

North DeKalb Mall, located at Lawrenceville Highway and North Druid Hills Road not far from Decatur, opened in 1965 and enjoyed several decades of success.  Over the years the mall has been home to one of the first Dollar Tree stores, a short-lived concept called Little Bucks, a productive Rich's store, one of the only Dippin' Dots shops, KB Toys and Woolworths, among others.  

In recent years, however, following the closures of Macy'sWendy's and Bath & Body Works and the relocations of Play It Again Sports, ROSS and Burlington, among others, the mall has become increasingly popular with the film community.  Recent productions that utilized the mall property include Fear Street (Netflix), Cobra Kai (Netflix), Zombieland: Double Tap (Columbia Pictures), The Mule (Warner Bros. Pictures), and most recently in Season 4, part 1 of Ozark (Netflix). 

Season 4, part 1 of Ozark filmed in the old ROSS at North DeKalb Mall

The mall's core closed to the public in 2020, but AMC Theatres North DeKalb 16, Marshalls, and Dollar Tree, as well as few small shops, remain open.   

ToNeTo Atlanta reported this past July that an existing Drive-Thru Only (DTO) Chick-fil-A along North Druid Hills seeks to relocate to the former Pier 1 near the entrance to North DeKalb Mall where they would construct a new, full-size restaurant.  

A few miles away from North DeKalb Mall, Dallas-based ATR Corinth Partners is reimagining Northlake Mall (soon to be known simply as "Northlake") in Tucker, but rather than start from scratch as EDENS intends to do, is reconfiguring the existing infrastructure to suit the needs of new tenants like Emory Healthcare.  

EDENS owns and operates 1.8 million square feet of retail space in metro Atlanta, including Toco Hills, Merchants Walk in East Cobb, Andrews Square, Buckhead Market Place, Moores Mill and Tuxedo Festival in Buckhead, and Park Place in Dunwoody, which the firm purchased this past December.  

What would like most like to see as part of the proposed redevelopment of North DeKalb Mall?  Do you think Costco will ever open at the mall property?  What is your oldest memory of North DeKalb Mall?

Please share your thoughts below  


BigRedDogATL said...

My best memory of N Dekalb Mall is of a food court restaurant called Cupim Burgers. They made Brazilian potato bread rolls with little chunks of cheese inside them. You could also get a small burger on the rolls. I miss those hot from the oven rolls.

I also remember it was where Lechmere opened a store and found out the Atlanta market doesn’t pay full price for things like they do in Boston, where Lechmere was based. Lechmere didn’t last long in Atlanta

RichKnobSales said...

Not holding my breath.

NO community involvement. They haven't asked the neighbors squat. Same old same old - build apartments where you can't get out of the parking lot and YOU CAN'T FLUSH YOUR TOILET. No problem, right?

Anonymous said...

That’s right! Keep it exactly as it is now! Zero traffic coming out of there. I can shop at Dollar Tree and never have a problem getting in our out. And I’m sure there’s no toilet flushes going on there either! We all win when they keep the old rundown building just as it is and never change a thing!

Ham said...

DeKalb needs to get their act together and do something smart with this prime location. Focus on surrounding infrastructure maybe direct access to and from HWY 78. Consider using some of the property to expand the neighboring Green Space. Also, the area can probably support higher end residential, so don't let the developer build cheap homes that ultimately attract crime.

Anonymous said...

Gaming and eSports.... Maybe a tech hub??? Would love to see VS Realm return!!!

Anonymous said...

any homes built here would probably start in the 600s. I think that the entire mall should be leveled, and the site should get a mix of townhomes and free-standing homes. I think it will need to be a gated neighborhood--but it is an overall good location.

Atlanta has very little of this, but if there was a pedestrian bridge going over NDH that would allow residents to easily walk to and from the Publix, that would be good. And if there are any ways to integrate the nature preserve area (maybe more trails, raised boardwalks) that could be good.

Greenwave said...

@ 7:40 pm

Publix has stated that they would partner with the developer to open a much bigger Publix and move from Shamrock Publix so no bridge is needed. At least not for that.

Anonymous said...

Edens has actually built something similar to this in Virginia called the Mosaic District. Before assuming nothing will work on this site or will only make things worse, look into what they have done there: https://mosaicdistrict.com/.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the Mosaic looks fantastic. Despite more traffic, I'd certainly welcome something like that in this site, and I am a neighbor who'd be impacted more than just a passerby.

Anonymous said...

I also miss Cupim bread. I still have dreams of it. There is nothing else like those delicious cheese stuffed potato rolls right out of the oven. My last meal would for sure have Cupim bread.

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