North DeKalb Mall

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North DeKalb Mall
Location Decatur, Georgia, USA
Coordinates 33°48′31″N 84°16′34″W / 33.80861°N 84.27611°W / 33.80861; -84.27611Coordinates: 33°48′31″N 84°16′34″W / 33.80861°N 84.27611°W / 33.80861; -84.27611
Opening date July 29, 1965
Developer Scott Development
Owner Lennar Commercial Investors LLC & Sterling Organization
No. of stores and services 85+
No. of anchor tenants 3
Total retail floor area 635,000 square feet (59,000 m2)
No. of floors one
Website North DeKalb Mall
Food court of North DeKalb Mall

North Dekalb Mall is an enclosed shopping mall located in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Opened in 1965, the center currently comprises more than eighty-five stores on one level. Anchor stores include Burlington Coat Factory, Macy's, Payless Home Furnishings, Marshalls, and Ross Dress For Less; the mall also features a food court and multiplex movie theater.


Originally and formerly called North DeKalb Center, the mall first opened July 29, 1965, with fifty-four stores; original anchor stores included Atlanta-based department store Rich's, and a Woolworth dime store.[1]

In 1986, North DeKalb Mall was expanded and renovated with two new anchor stores: department store chains Mervyn's and discount chain Lechmere.[2] The mall was also renamed Market Square at North DeKalb at this time.[3] Lechmere closed in 1989 and was replaced with the discount pharmacy chain Phar-Mor,[4] which closed in 1992 and was eventually replaced with a movie theater and Rhodes Furniture.

Mervyns shuttered all of its Georgia locations in 1997; the store at North DeKalb was replaced by an Uptons, which closed in 1999, then it became the current Burlington Coat Factory. Stein Mart was added in the early 1990s, replacing a portion of a mall wing which once housed a Spinnaker's restaurant and smaller mall stores. Old Navy was also added but later closed, becoming Ross Dress for Less. Rhodes Furniture was later Shoder Furniture for a short time before becoming Marshalls in 2010. A furniture store also replaced the old Stein Mart.

Hendon Properties, which bought the mall for $25 million (USD) in 2003, planned on bringing a Costco to the mall.[5]

On May 15, 2014, it was announced that Lennar Commercial Investors LLC, together with Sterling Organization, purchased the mall for an undisclosed amount, with plans to convert the enclosed portion to an open-air concept.[6] On Thursday October 29, 2015, Macy's North DeKalb Mall May Morph Into Costco, Macy's may soon make way for Costco. A well placed source indicates that they received confirmation that at least one local Macy's store will close as part of the company's previously announced plan to close up to 40 stores by early next year.

All indications lead me to believe that the Macy's at North DeKalb Mall is likely to be (one of) the store(s) to close.

Classic two-story Rich's building with mid-1980s single story expansion

Other possible closure candidates are stores in nearby Northlake Mall in Tucker, Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth or Greenbriar Mall in southwest Atlanta.

It's no secret that Issaquah, Washington-based Costco has been looking to build a location in North DeKalb county, and the Macy's, (formerly Rich's) at North DeKalb Mall makes perfect sense for their store.

The 2008 plan to bring Costco to the mall would have placed the retailer in a different portion of the mall, in what would have been a newly built, roughly 142,000 square foot space. The space would have essentially been between the current Burlington Coat Factory and the 16 screen AMC Theatres.

As is the case with a number of older malls, Macy's owns their "box" and could see this as a great way to trim an underperforming store and maximize its value by selling the property. Additionally, the Goodyear/Macy's Auto Center outparcel could be an ideal location for a Costco gas station.

Macy's reportedly has a deal in place with mall owner Sterling to sell their property, which in turn would lease it to Costco. According to a source close to the situation, Sterling has the Macy's property under contract and could close on the site before the end of the year.

The new proposal would seem to allow for more parking close to the Costco building, as well as allowing for the wholesale club to anchor the new "open-air" revamp.

(I'd expect to hear more details in the coming weeks given the ICSC Southeast Conference & Deal Making wrapped up yesterday at the Cobb Galleria.)

Costco previously opened at a mid-tier mall, Cumberland Mall, in place of J.C. Penney, in late 2006. By all accounts the mall is doing much better than it had been, and will soon see a new Kroger open in a portion of the current Sears space.

The most recent intown Costco to open was at TOWN Brookhaven nearly five years ago. At the time of the opening I spoke with James Sinegal, Costco's co-founder and then CEO. Sinegal said at the time that the North DeKalb Mall location had been "tabled" in favor of the Brookhaven opening.

In preparation for this post, I contacted Atlanta native Richard Galanti, CFO of Costco and Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications for Macy's Inc., neither of whom would confirm or deny that a deal was in the works.

Two weeks ago I also spoke with Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren while he was in Atlanta. I asked him about the potential Atlanta closure(s) and when they might occur. Lundgren declined to comment on when and where closures would take place, and would not provide any timetable for possible closure announcements. (I'm pretty sure Lundgren was wearing a Donald Trump suit.)

Although this was my first time personally speaking with Lundgren, well placed retail sources report that this trip was at least the third by the Macy's CEO to metro Atlanta in the past few months.

In a move similar to what I envision occurring at North DeKalb, Macy's announced last month that it will close its store at Owings Mills Mall in metropolitan Baltimore. Macy's agreed to sell the store building to mall owner Kimco Realty, who plans to redevelop the nearly 30-year-old property. Like North DeKalb, the mall was once a beacon in the area and was even home to Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. Today, Owings Mills Mall is home to a 17 screen AMC Theaters, J.C. Penney, Macy's and a few restaurant outparcels.

North DeKalb Mall, then known as North DeKalb Center, opened in 1965 with Rich's fifth "branch" store, in the space now occupied by Macy's.

A cool history of the North DeKalb Mall can be found here

Last year, North DeKalb Mall was purchased by Lennar Commercial and Sterling Organization. The new ownership then announced plans to convert the enclosed portion of the mall into an open-air concept. A similar transformation was completed earlier this year when Biltmore Square Mall, a once thriving mall in Asheville, North Carolina that had fallen on hard times, was reopened as an open air outlet mall, "Asheville Outlets."

The exterior of the would-be Costco at North DeKalb Mall could look like this

Although I have not been privy to any plans, I could see AMC Theatres and Marshalls remaining in the center after the transformation, while others would likely depart. Ross Dress For Less, which occupies a former Old Navy, could remain as well, but given they are opening a new store in Suburban Plaza, they may consolidate operations to that store.

It would seem to be an easier task to lease space in the mall / "lifestyle center" once you add national anchors like Costco to the property.  With luck, the Costco store will come to fruition, and will lead to a renewed interest in the property.


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