Officials from Decide DeKalb—DeKalb County’s development authority—approved a tax allocation district (TAD) for developer EDENS and its Lulah Hills project at the site of the former North DeKalb Mall on Nov. 9.
The TAD—tabbed a Market Square TAD in the case of Lulah Hills because funds will renovate an underutilized and/or vacant mall and its supporting storefront—will grant developer EDENS $70 million in tax reimbursements over a 15-year period.
According to Decide DeKalb officials, the TAD funds totaling $70 million represent 8.3 percent of the project’s total investment – listed at $842.6 million. Decide DeKalb officials said the TAD is intended to redirect new tax revenue to promote economic development in underdeveloped or blighted designated areas.
“The establishment of the Market Square Tax Allocation District represents a significant milestone in our mission to create sustainable economic development and vibrant communities in DeKalb County,” said DeKalb County Government CEO Michael Thurmond. “We are excited to work collaboratively with Decide DeKalb, our partners at EDENS and county stakeholders to bring about positive change in the North DeKalb Mall area.”
According to documents regarding the project, EDENS plans to transform the 76.1-acre site into a town center that will “advance community goals identified in DeKalb County’s Comprehensive Plan by enhancing economic development, land use, transportation, natural resources, and housing.”
The documents state that the development will create 1,400 permanent jobs and 3,000 construction jobs – with 840 permanent jobs and 1,500 construction jobs being full time.
EDENS also agreed to provide 10 percent workforce and affordable housing within the project and agreed to provide opportunities for local retailers by integrating a 2,000-square-foot retail incubator supporting four-to-five local independent retailers with flexible lease terms.
The developer will also contribute $550,000 to DeKalb County to be exclusively applied toward offsite improvements that will “enhance the integration of Lulah Hills with the surrounding community.” Those funds will be spent on improving intersections, constructing a shared-use trail on Mistletoe Road, and improvements of the onsite community garden, according to project documents.
“Ensuring dedicated greenspaces and trails within our community is something I’m passionate about and something I’m thrilled to see be included in this project. Lulah Hills will not only be a destination for all to enjoy, the walking trail and garden will be an enhancement to residents,” said DeKalb County 2nd District Commissioner Michelle Long-Spears.
Documents state that construction should start in March 2024—subject to the receipt of payments—and that the project is expected to be complete in August 2026. Developers have said that demolition of the existing mall could begin in 2023.
A news release from EDENS states that the proposed Lulah Hills development will total 2.5 million square feet, including 320,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 1,700 multifamily units, 100 townhomes, a 150-room hotel, and a Path Foundation trail connection to Emory University.
EDENS also owns and operates approximately 1.5 million square feet of retail in the Atlanta area, including Toco Hills, Merchants Walk, Andrews Square, Buckhead Marketplace, Moores Mill, and Park Place.
Lulah’s developer said that North DeKalb Mall was the first fully enclosed mall open for business in Atlanta in 1965.