Developers have unveiled plans for turning part of an ailing DeKalb County mall into a food, entertainment, working, and tourism complex that’s envisioned as a regional destination for Atlanta’s eastern suburbs.   

Commercial real estate developers Stonecrest Resorts landed financing last week for the second phase of the company’s redevelopment efforts at Stonecrest Mall, located 20 miles east of downtown Atlanta. Expect a dash of Ponce City Market and The Beacon where Stonecrest's Sears once sold fridges and CD players.

Called Priví—that’s a play on “privilege” and “privy”—the $17-million, adaptive-reuse venture is set to span two levels. Upstairs will be a 50,000-square-foot food hall with a mix of entertainment concepts; downstairs will see an 18,000-square-foot coworking space, event facility, and health and wellness center with nine different businesses.

Expect everything from an axe-throwing concept to a cigar lounge, oxygen bar, karaoke venue, escape room, splatter-paint studio, a music and bookstore with a coffee shop, and a comedy club, project officials say.

Exterior plans for the Priví concept east of downtown Atlanta. Courtesy of Stonecrest Resorts

Predevelopment for the second phase of Stonecrest work has begun. Project leaders say the Sears building’s conversion is already 85 percent leased, though specific tenants won’t be announced until later.

The first phase of redevelopment opened SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium next door in November. The “lifestyle complex” is meant to provide a family-friendly destination where guests might focus on wellness, dine, or incubate their creativity, per project leaders. 

Vaughn D. Irons, Stonecrest Resorts’ principal and developer, expects the Priví and aquarium combo to become a regional destination in the Southeast, all built without taxpayers contributions, he said. California-based lenders Private Capital Investors and Socotra Capital are onboard, along with Forum Partners, a London-based global real estate investment and asset management firm.

“We developed a project that responded to the community's desire for elevated experiences, better dining options, and premier customer service," Irons, a longtime Stonecrest resident, noted in a press release.

How the entertainment complex will be oriented near SeaQuest aquarium. Courtesy of Stonecrest Resorts

Since 2016, major blows to Stonecrest’s retail viability have come with the closing of anchors Kohl’s and Sears. The area has suffered from “economic disinvestment and retail leakage for years,” as a Stonecrest Resorts rep wrote in an email.

Stonecrest joins a growing slate of metro Atlanta malls with tall ambitions for adaptive-reuse conversions. Mixed-use additions or alterations are planned at Alpharetta’s North Point Mall, South DeKalb Mall, and North DeKalb Mall, among others.

Meanwhile, the most maligned, ghostly mall in the metro, Gwinnett Place, is showing signs of life, too. Gwinnett County purchased the 39-acre property for $23 million last year and selected planning firm VHB to come up with a revitalization strategy.

A mural and bar-top table seating planned for the Priví food hall component. Courtesy of Stonecrest Resorts

In DeKalb, Stonecrest Resorts bought the 15-acre mall parcel—with two buildings totaling 143,000 square feet—from Stonecrest’s Urban Redevelopment Authority in October for $2.1 million. The overall project is expected to create 560 jobs.

Priví’s construction is scheduled to begin in earnest this spring, with the lower level opening this summer.

The upper-level food hall component is expected to debut in spring next year.

Renderings unveiled for reimagined North Point Mall in Alpharetta (Urbanize Atlanta)