DeKalb County is moving forward with a financing tool that county leaders hope will provide a jolt of economic development while helping to resuscitate a moribund mall property.

DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners this week unanimously approved the Market Square Tax Allocation District, or TAD, for North DeKalb Mall's planned redevelopment. The TAD will also cover areas near the mall property, to include 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.

Governments use TADs as tax increment financing tools to help generate investment in distressed or underdeveloped areas that otherwise wouldn’t occur. DeKalb County leaders have been working with business boosters Decide DeKalb to craft a vision for the North DeKalb Mall area—with a reimagined mall property serving as the nucleus.

Edens, a national developer with regional headquarters in Atlanta, plans to remake the mostly vacant, 1960s mall into something resembling Avalon in the northeast section of ITP Atlanta. Only the existing AMC movie theater would remain in place.

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

Edens’ plans call for 300,000 square feet of “innovative and creative retail,” 180,000 square feet of Class A offices in two buildings, and a 150-key hotel, all woven together by greenspaces and bike paths.

On the residential front, 100 townhomes and 1,700 multifamily units are also in the works.  

Developers have previously said their goal is to open the reimagined property, which Edens now owns, in 2028.  

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

The mall redevelopment might be the centerpiece, but DeKalb County’s ambitions for the Market Square TAD are bigger.

The tax measure will help fund affordable housing in the central DeKalb area, alongside new parks, landscaping, lighting, and transportation and mobility enhancements, county officials said this week.  

The TAD has a potential appraised redevelopment value of $625 million on the mall site, which is currently appraised at $16.2 million. In conjunction with other redevelopment projects in the TAD area, officials say the TAD could spell $806 million in new property value—nearly 20 times the current valuation.

The broader vision “is to encourage redevelopment of outdated commercial areas into modern uses for this district,” said Dorian DeBarr, Decide DeKalb development authority president, in a prepared statement. “We’re thrilled that [commissioners] approved the TAD, which fits into the goals set out by the 2050 DeKalb Unified Plan. We’re excited to work with Edens, the new owner of North DeKalb Mall, to spur economic development in this district.”  

Head up to the gallery for a detailed look at Edens’ plans for the mall property, as presented earlier this year.

New owners promise retail revival for Gallery at South DeKalb mall (Urbanize Atlanta)