The death knell is tolling for another tired, suburban-style shopping mall in metro Atlanta.

Real estate developer Edens, Decide DeKalb, and elected DeKalb County officials have scheduled a press conference June 26 that will double as the kickoff for North DeKalb Mall’s demolition.  

Located about three miles northeast of downtown Decatur, the 1960s mall property is largely vacant today, apart from a Marshalls clothing retailer and AMC movie theater. As with Gwinnett Place Mall and other formerly popular shopping destinations ringed with parking lots, North DeKalb Mall has been the subject of redevelopment talks for years as tenants slipped away and its retail corridors grew darker.

Edens plans to convert the North DeKalb Mall property into a more diversified town center called Lulah Hills. According to preliminary renderings and scope, the mixed-use lifestyle complex could resemble Halcyon or Avalon in Atlanta’s northern suburbs.

A project representative tells Urbanize Atlanta the June 26 demolition event will signal “that site’s next chapter” but is not considered the official groundbreaking for Lula Hills. An update on the status of the project will be released closer to the event date, and all details are pending until then, according to the rep.

Plans for a centralized greenspace near the AMC theatre, as illustrated in the upper left corner. Courtesy of Edens

The ailing mall's 20242 Lawrenceville Highway location in the context of ITP Atlanta's northeast side. Google Maps

Plans call for Lulah Hills to span some 73 acres and include nearly 2,000 units of housing, in addition to shopping, dining, and lodging options. Only the existing AMC movie theater will remain in place. (A site plan does depict Marshalls operating in a space adjacent to the theater in a new retail section.) 

As of last year, Edens, a national firm with regional headquarters in Atlanta, was aiming to deliver the first phases of Lulah Hills development in 2025. The company’s other retail properties in the metro include Whole Foods-anchored Buckhead Market Place and the refreshed Toco Hills.

Edens’ Lulah Hills blueprint calls for 2.5 million square feet overall, with a new PATH Foundation trail linking the property to nearby Emory University. The redevelopment breakdown: 1,700 multifamily units, 100 townhomes, a 150-key hotel, roughly 320,000 square feet for retail and restaurants, and no office space, according to details provided last year.  

Edens officials have previously said their goal is to fully open the reimagined mall property in 2028.

Planned look of the project's residential section. Courtesy of Edens

Overview of redevelopment plans. Courtesy of Edens

Upon its 1965 debut, North DeKalb Mall was the first in metro Atlanta to be fully enclosed, operating where North Druid Hills Road meets Lawrenceville Highway until it shuttered in 2020. Edens acquired the mall property the following year.

In 2022, DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a Market Square Tax Allocation District, or TAD, to help kickstart North DeKalb Mall's redevelopment.

The TAD also covers areas near the mall property, including North Druid Hills Road and Lawrenceville Highway, in hopes of spurring economic development similar to what other parts of DeKalb have seen in recent years, according to county officials.

In conjunction with other redevelopment projects in the area, backers have said the TAD could spell $806 million in new property value for the outdated commercial zone—nearly 20 times the current valuation. The tax measure will also help fund affordable housing in central DeKalb, alongside new parks, landscaping, lighting, and transportation and mobility enhancements, county officials have said.

In the gallery above, find a preview of how the finished Lulah Hills district is planned to look and function where parking lots and retail skeletons are today.


Follow us on social media: 

Twitter / Facebook/and now: Instagram  

• Decatur news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)