DeKalb County Commission approves North DeKalb Mall redevelopment described as ‘generational’ projectNorth DeKalb Mall. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Greater Decatur, GA — The DeKalb County Commission at a May 26 meeting approved a rezoning that would allow for a massive redevelopment of North DeKalb Mall.
Commissioners said the project will be a boon to central DeKalb County. The development will transform a mall that’s been declining for decades. It’s mostly empty now, and the inside of the mall is closed to visitors. The vote for approval was unanimous.
Developer Edens plans to create a mixed-use development with retail, a hotel, apartments, and townhomes. Plans call for about 300,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, a 150-room hotel, 1,700 apartment units and 100 townhomes. The project’s estimated completion date is 2028. The plan also shows nearly 50,000 square feet allocated for a grocery store, but doesn’t name the store. To see previous renderings of the plan obtained by Decaturish, click here. The project will set aside 10% units for workforce housing and will include a retail incubator. The developer is not asking for anything in exchange for providing the affordable units.
The build-out will take eight to 10 years.
Some residents spoke in favor of it, praising how Edens engaged with the community. Some residents also spoke in opposition, citing concerns about the traffic and density of the project, though most were supportive of the site being redeveloped.
The mall was constructed in 1965 and was the first fully air-conditioned mall in the region when it opened its doors. The mall remains climate controlled but is now mostly empty as businesses have left. Under the new redevelopment plan, the AMC movie theater will remain on the property.
The AMC and Challenges Games and Comics are among the mall’s remaining big draws, inviting foot traffic to the location.
Due to the project’s size, it was vetted as a Development of Regional Impact by the Atlanta Regional Commission. The initial comments by ARC were favorable toward the project.
“The project directly advances a broad range of regional policies related to walkable mixed-used development, natural resource conservation and environmental protection, transit-oriented development, adaptive reuse, and placemaking among others,” a report from the ARC says.
The ARC notes that the project will create 15,000 new daily car trips in the area.
“While the project will generate a significant number of new vehicular trips, its mixed-use and highly walkable design as well as immediate adjacency to several MARTA bus lines offer meaningful multimodal alternatives to driving,” the ARC report says.
Den Webb, an attorney for the developer, said there will be improvements to the traffic infrastructure to address some of the concerns. Webb said the project has “overwhelming support” from the neighborhood.
“Everyone has done their homework on this application,” Webb said.
Commissioner Jeff Rader, who supported the development, called it a “generational” project.
“This site has been the sleeper site in District 2 for many years,” he said. “To the credit of the community, they have waited for the development they believed this site deserved, and this is that development.”
Commissioner Ted Terry agreed that the project will have a significant impact on the county. He also supports the redevelopment of the mall.
“Politics is the art of the possible and what’s possible then becomes reality,” he said. “I think what we’ve done over the last 10 months now is craft something that I believe is going to be a tremendously beneficial project for DeKalb County.”
As previously reported on Decaturish, Edens is throwing its weight behind expanding a public trail through the property. The trail connection at North DeKalb Mall would be one part of a larger plan to connect the Peachtree Creek Greenway — which will eventually connect to Briarcliff Woods — to the South Peachtree Creek Trail that runs through the Medlock Park neighborhood. The county is working with the PATH Foundation, a developer of public trails, to study the idea. Edens would be responsible for maintaining the trail.
The ARC report says, “The project includes a robust pedestrian network including a multi-use regional trail segment and connections to surrounding commercial uses, residential neighborhoods, and open space.”
Until now, redevelopment proposals for the mall have never come to fruition. The mall came close to a massive redevelopment back in 2018, which would’ve been anchored by a Costco. But that fell through. Since 2018, the mall has been used as a location for filming movies and TV shows. The empty parking lot has also attracted drag racers.
Commissioner Terry said that back in the day, the mall was the place to be. Now, it could again become a hub for civic life, he said.
“The most valuable piece of what we’re doing here is we’re creating a public realm, a sense of place and a place for people in the community to gather for things to happen,” he said.
Here are additional photos showing the current state of the mall:
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