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County commissioner has questions ahead of meeting about North DeKalb Mall project

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County commissioner has questions ahead of meeting about North DeKalb Mall project

The vacant Macy's store at North Dekalb Mall. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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The vacant Macy’s store at North Dekalb Mall. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

A plan to tear down and rebuild North DeKalb Mall will be the topic of a community meeting on April 26.

Fittingly, the meeting is being held in the former Ross Dress for Less space, one of many tenants to leave the struggling mall over the years. The redevelopment will include a Costco, 450 multifamily units, a 152 key hotel,  restaurant and retail space. Two existing tenants – the AMC movie theater and the Burlington Coat Factory – will continue their leases at the space during the redevelopment.

Due to the project’s size it will have to be vetted as a Development of Regional Impact by the Atlanta Regional Commission. The redevelopment will be a years-long process and Thursday’s meeting is one of many that will happen before construction begins.

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The meeting begins at 7 p.m. There will be lots of community interest in this, so plan to arrive early.

One of the people interested to know more about the project is DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, who represents the area. He will have a representative there to keep him apprised of what happens. The meeting was organized by Sterling Organization, which owns the mall.

Rader questioned whether the area could support yet another grocery store in light of three that have opened in North Decatur in recent years, including Sprouts, Aldi and a Walmart as well as a Whole Foods 365 store that’s under construction.

“Lord knows, we’ve got a lot of grocery stores in that area now,” Rader said. “I can’t second guess the market but I don’t want to unintentionally overstimulate a particular sector that would lead to a shake out that gives us empty boxes in the area.”

Rader said he is not sure if the developer plans to ask the county for tax breaks to help finance the project, but said many developers do.

“I think we really ought to be thinking of incentives as perhaps best targeted as providing basic employment in the community that serves as a foundation for population growth and the retail that serves it and less for those end uses that are supported by jobs,” he said.

The commissioner said with the departure of Macy’s, Sterling Organization has more options for redevelopment.  Macy’s would not give Costco access to its unused parking spaces, which previously held up the project. The closure of Macy’s renewed interest in the space because the retailer was an obstacle to Costco opening a store there.

“What inhibited the redevelopment of it in the past has been the entitlements that Macy’s had and their lease hold control over parking,” Rader said. “Those impediments have now been removed … They do have a clean slate there.”

Here is the official notice for the April 26 meeting:

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