You see the international concept in states like California, Florida and Alabama. Everyday, more and more malls across the nation are ripping away their roofs and dry walled corridors to add “open-air” plazas, sidewalks and street-side parking.
North DeKalb Mall will soon be redeveloped as an open-air mall too. Lennar Commercial Investors, LLC and Sterling Organization have purchased North DeKalb Mall, 2050 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, for an undisclosed amount from Hendon Properties, to transform it into an open-air mall.
“We’re all excited about the purchase of North DeKalb Mall and this new concept,” said mall representative Mary Burge. “We look forward to working with both Lennar and Sterling to do everything we can to assist them in this process.”
Lennar and Sterling acquired ownership interest in the property on May 9. Sterling will manage the center. No date has been set on when the construction will begin.
“North DeKalb Mall fits perfectly with our investment philosophy to target well-located retail assets in major markets that have below market rents and where value can be created through lease up, redevelopment and/or repositioning,” said Brian D. Kosoy, Managing Principal and CEO of the Sterling Organization. “We are looking forward to partnering with Lennar to transform the property.”
The 622,300-square-foot mall or shopping center is just inside Interstate 285 in northeastern Atlanta. It opened in 1965 and is one of the last remaining large-scale infill opportunities in the Decatur/Emory area for retail or mixed-use redevelopment, according to the mall’s website. Anchor tenants include AMC Theatres, Burlington Coat Factory, Macy’s, Marshalls and Ross Dress for Less.
DeKalb County District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader says the open air concept will make North DeKalb a more accessible shopping district and opens the possibility of further urban-style enhancements.
“I’m excited about this substantial investment in a property that is central to our community. Shoppers and residents are showing a preference for mixed-use environments and this is a step in that direction,” said Rader. The mall sits in the district he represents. “By revitalizing North DeKalb Mall, these investors are recognizing the business opportunity in serving the surrounding stable, middle class neighborhoods. Taken together with nearby redevelopment at Suburban Plaza/Medlock, the area is seeing the beginning of a boom in quality urban redevelopment.”
Elizabeth Bucko of Atlanta makes an annual trip to the Decatur mall to take pictures with Santa. She says no matter what, she hopes the new development doesn’t mean a change in her family’s holiday tradition.
“We have been taking photos with Santa for seven years straight,” said Bucko. “Not only do we love him, but I’m worried that switching Santa’s will cause my son to be a 7-year-old forced to totally overthink the whole thing and that would lead to nowhere good.”
The development team bringing the facelift to North DeKalb Mall has developments in both Florida and Georgia.
Lennar Commercial Investors, LLC is the commercial division of Lennar Corporation, specializing in the development, investment and management of retail, mixed-use and commercial office projects and is currently represented in 19 states nationwide.
The Sterling Organization is a real estate firm that has a track record of providing risk-adjusted returns to its partners, according to representatives at the Sterling Organization.
“North DeKalb Mall is extremely well positioned for redevelopment based on its age, proximate location to major employers such as AT&T, Emory University, Cox Communications and Kroger, and easy access to major thoroughfares,” said Mike Cohn, Regional President of Lennar Commercial. “In addition, a redevelopment will greatly benefit the high density neighborhoods surrounding the property, including Emory, Druid Hills and Decatur.”
Ingrid Budreackas, who frequents the mall, says the overhaul was needed.
“Finally, a facelift for the mall. It’s been looking sad lately, especially on the outside with no recent improvements,” said Budreackas. “The addition of the Golden Corral this year has been great for the mall. This should be even better for the mall.”