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DeKalb County Commission approves tax allocation district for North DeKalb Mall redevelopment

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DeKalb County Commission approves tax allocation district for North DeKalb Mall redevelopment

North DeKalb Mall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Greater Decatur, GA — The DeKalb County Commission has approved a tax allocation district that covers North DeKalb Mall and the areas nearby that will be affected by the upcoming redevelopment of the property.

The TAD is called the “Market Square Tax Allocation District,” according to a press release from Decide DeKalb, the county’s development authority. Developer EDENS is planning a massive mixed-use project at the mall, which has been mostly vacant for years, with a few notable exceptions like the AMC movie theater and Challenges Games and Comics.

“A TAD, also known as tax increment financing, is a tool that governments use to help generate new economic development in underdeveloped or distressed areas,” the press release from Decide DeKalb says. “Redevelopment costs are financed through the pledge of future incremental increases in property taxes generated by the resulting new development. TADs are created to promote economic development and TAD monies can be used to finance development that otherwise wouldn’t occur as well as to finance public infrastructure improvements to stimulate more activity in the district.”

According to the press release, the TAD will fund transportation and mobility upgrades, as well as affordable housing, parks, landscaping and lighting.

“DeKalb County is also looking at other major enhancements in the area, which include developing a countywide greenway and multiuse trail; improving bicycle and pedestrian connectivity; redeveloping vacant structures and parcels along North Druid Hills Road and Lawrenceville Highway; providing capital improvements for schools within the TAD area; and more investment in affordable and workforce housing,” the press release says.

Decide DeKalb President Dorian DeBarr said the organization’s vision is to encourage redeveloping outdated commercial areas like North DeKalb Mall.

“We’re thrilled that the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved the TAD, which fits into the goals set out by the 2050 DeKalb Unified Plan,” DeBarr said. “We’re excited to work with EDENS, the new owner of North DeKalb Mall, to spur economic development in this district.”

According to the press release, the appraised redevelopment value of the EDENS project is $625 million. The site is currently appraised at $16.2 million.

“This project, along with redevelopment projects in the TAD could be worth $806 million in new property value, on what currently is valued at $40.5 million,” the press release from Decide DeKalb says.

EDENS Senior VP Herbert Ames said in the press release that the company is “excited to partner with DeKalb County and Decide DeKalb in this effort to revitalize and reinvigorate the spirit of what North DeKalb Mall has meant to the community.”

DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader, who has helped bring the project to fruition and who will be leaving office next year, said the TAD will help with the redevelopment of the mall.

“Working with Decide DeKalb and their consultants to identify a necessary and applicable finance mechanism that would exceed public expectations was the goal,” Rader said. “I am confident Market Place TAD will help revitalize central DeKalb in a meaningful way.”

Commissioner Ted Terry has also championed the redevelopment.

“The passage of Market Square TAD creates opportunity for the North DeKalb community to thrive and flourish like it once did and I’m happy to support Decide DeKalb in the revitalization of this area,” Terry said.

EDENS is the same real estate developer that owns the Toco Hills Shopping Center on North Druid Hills Road.

North DeKalb 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, but Challenges will have to relocate because the business will not be able to afford higher rents on the property.

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.

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.

Commissioners Rader and Steve Bradshaw announced in August that they are earmarking $499,000 for a trail that will lengthen the South Peachtree Creek Trail from Medlock Park to North DeKalb Mall.

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