NORTH DEKALB CENTER
Lawrenceville Highway / US 78 and North Druid Hills Road
Dekalb County, Georgia

"Leave your umbrella at home" was the slogan heard when Greater Atlanta's fourth shopping mall opened for business. Upon its official dedication, held July 29, 1965, NORTH DEKALB CENTER was hailed as "the city's first weatherproof shopping center".

The fully-enclosed facility was built on a 65 acre site. This was located 8.7 miles northeast of center city Atlanta, in a section of unincorporated Dekalb County known as Medlock Park. Construction had begun in June 1964.

Built by Atlanta-based Scott Development and designed by Stevens & Wilkinson of Marietta, Georgia, the 8.5 million dollar mall housed fifty-four stores and services. It encompassed approximately 447,000 leasable square feet. NORTH DEKALB CENTER was anchored by a 2-level (160,000 square foot), Atlanta-based Rich's and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

Charter inline stores included Regenstein's ladies' wear, Flagg Brothers Shoes, Hickock Sporting Goods and a (21,000 square foot) Colonial Stores supermarket. The Storey Theatres North Dekalb Theatre showed its first feature August 9, 1965. It was later reconfigured as the North Dekalb Twin, which opened in May 1976.

Commercial competitors of NORTH DEKALB CENTER included COLUMBIA MALL (1965) {3.4 miles south, in Dekalb County} and NORTHLAKE MALL (1971) {2.9 miles northeast, also in Dekalb County}.

By the mid-1980s, the shopping hub, now known as NORTH DEKALB MALL, was in decline. Its owner, Toronto-based Cadillac Fairview Shopping Centers, announced a major renovation in October 1985, which got underway in November. Woolworth, vacant by this time, was gutted along with the entire western half of the mall structure.

A new name was formally announced in April 1986; MARKET SQUARE AT NORTH DEKALB. A completely rebuilt, 700,000 square foot, complex was officially dedicated October 16, 1986. There were now eighty-five stores and services.

Two new anchors joined the tenant list as part of the renovation. A 1-level (63,300 square foot), Woburn ["woo-burn"], Massachusetts-based Lechmere ["leech-meer"] held its grand opening August 31, 1986, followed by a 1-level (75,200 square foot) Mervyn's, which made its debut on October 17 of the same year.

Thirty inline stores had been added, including a 9-bay Food Court and expanded movie house, known as the Cineplex Odeon Market Square 4. Rich's was also enlarged. The store now encompassed 196,700 square feet.

Lechmere was the first anchor store to change nameplates. It became a Phar-Mor Drug in 1992, closed and was used as a part of an expanded movie theater. The American Multi-Cinema North Dekalb 16 showed its first features December 13, 1996.

Mervyn's was shuttered in the summer of 1997. Its space was taken by Norcross, Georgia-based Uptons, which opened in the fall of 1997 and closed in the fall of 1999. Burlington Coat Factory began business in the vacant Uptons space in November 2002.

The mall had been renovated in the year 2000. Existing tenants in the center section were relocated, with most of the vacated space being reconfigured as a (30,000 square foot) Ross Dress For Less. A section of the old Lechmere became a Rhodes Furniture, Shoder Furniture and then K & L Furniture. A (28,600 square foot), Massachusetts-based Marshalls opened there October 21, 2010.

Along with the year 2000 renovation had come a new (well, actually old) name for the shopping center...NORTH DEKALB MALL. In a renewed state of decline by October 2003, the complex was sold to Atlanta-based Hendon Properties. They proposed a second major renovation in 2004.

This was to add a 1-level (152,000 square foot) Costco, which would assume space where the mall's Food Court was located. In a subsequent "ultimate plan" for redevelopment, anchor stores -and the cinema- would be left standing, with the middle area of the mall being demolished. A wide boulevard would have been cut through and all stores reoriented into an open-air format.

The local government gave their approval for a demalling plan in 2008. The best case scenario would have had demolition / construction beginning in early 2009, with completion of the project slated for 2010.

This never happened. Several years passed, with no demolition or construction taking place. In May 2014, NORTH DEKALB MALL was sold to a joint venture of Miami-based Lennar Commercial Investors and the Palm Beach-based Sterling Organization.

A renovation, that would change the mall into an open-air venue, has been re-proposed. However, no timetable has been provided. In the meantime, the mall's Macy's was shuttered in the spring of 2016.

Sources:

The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Dekalb County, Georgia property tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
"North Deklab Mall" article on Wikipedia
www.nannis.com
www.georgiaencyclopedia.com
Atlanta Business Chronicle
www.godekalb.com
www.northdekalbmall.com
http://www.decaturish.com