Tucker plans to annex most of Northlake Mall
Editor’s note: Tucker approved the annexation in May.
By Cathi Harris, contributor
The Texas company that has purchased most of Northlake Mall has requested annexation of most of the development into the city of Tucker, Community and Economic Development Director John McHenry told city leaders Monday night.
At its regular meeting, the Tucker City Council heard the first read of an ordinance to annex five parcels of commercial property between Briarcliff Road and Northlake Parkway at the request of the property owner.
“This is the bulk of Northlake Mall,” McHenry told council members. “It excludes Macy’s, which owns their own property and building.”
Dallas-based ATR Corinth Partners has acquired the rest of the parcels comprising the mall, including the Sears property, over the past three years. According to a February report in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the developer is in talks with Emory Healthcare to possibly locate a large conference center, training space and centralized medical lab there, but company representatives have been mostly quiet about redevelopment plans.
The annexation was not initiated by Tucker, but came as a request from ATR, Tucker Mayor Frank Auman clarified during council discussion.
“The city of Tucker’s approach to annexation has been and will remain that we don’t go out and ask the Legislature or any body to force people into Tucker,” he said. “We have done a number of annexations – business, residential and otherwise. And, yes, we meet with them and we promote ourselves and the things we can offer as a city. But, ultimately, it is their decision, and that is the decision that ATR Corinth has made.”
Unlike some other municipalities in DeKalb, Tucker does not collect any city property taxes, he added. It does not fund a separate police force, water and sewer authority, or school system. The city uses county services in these areas. Any increased revenue realized from the mall redevelopment would still benefit the county as a whole and not just Tucker, Auman said.
“There are areas where the county has greater resources and we share those with them,” he added. “We believe Tucker is best positioned to do things like zoning and planning, development and code enforcement. But we will be doing that in support of DeKalb, so that we can have the necessary infrastructure, the water and sewer services and public safety that supports all of us.”
The annexation ordinance will come up at a future meeting of the City Council for a second read and final vote. Because it is through the 100 percent method, it does not require legislative or county approval, McHenry said.
There is an additional parcel to the north and east of the Macy’s property that is owned by ATR Corinth Partners and will remain in unincorporated DeKalb County, McHenry told Decaturish. This prevents the formation of an unincorporated island surrounded by the city limits, which is prohibited by state law.
The property under consideration for annexation is also in the map for the proposed new city of Vista Grove.
In a Facebook post, the group conceded that the mall will become a part of Tucker.
“Northlake Mall, which was part of the Vista Grove map, has requested to annex into the city of Tucker,” the Vista Grove Facebook post says. “This is disappointing news for Vista Grove, but we are the first to understand the benefits a city brings to business. We wish both Northlake Mall and Tucker the best.”
In other business Monday night, the city council voted unanimously to adopt the Tucker PATH Master Plan and Implementation Strategy.
A draft of the master plan was presented to the council in December, but the steering committee held off on seeking final adoption so that they could coordinate with the other community planning efforts in progress at the same time, said Greta deMayo, architect with Kaizen Collaborative, the design firm working on the plan for the city. The plan calls for 32 miles of multi-use paths and trails to improve pedestrian and bike access across the city. The plan will serve as a guide for development, allowing the city to work with commercial and residential developers to acquire and set aside land for the paths and seek grant funding and other sources to pay for them, deMayo said.
More information and a draft of the plan is available here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the mall’s owner. This story has been updated with the correct information.