The Mall at Stonecrest: From Vision to Reality
In the early 1990s, the bustling city of Atlanta was quickly expanding along the I-20 corridor. As a result, developers were eyeing the area for new retail opportunities.
One proposed project stood out: a super-regional shopping mall catering to the growing communities in the eastern part of the metro area.
Planning Stonecrest Mall
The mall was first proposed under various names, including Turner Hill Mall, Interstate East Mall, and Metro East. However, the project faced several delays due to developer issues.
One developer struggled to attract retailers to commit, as the South DeKalb Mall was still thriving. Nevertheless, the vision for the mall persisted.
Delays, Alternative Proposals, and Opening
Over the years, the land where the mall was planned was cleared several times, causing residents to question whether it would ever be built.
DeKalb County in Georgia planners even had alternative proposals for the area, including a convention center, an outdoor theatre, apartment units, a MARTA rail station, and a satellite college campus.
While some of these proposals did not come to fruition, the county did construct a library in the area now known as Stonecrest.
Finally, on October 24, 2001, the Mall at Stonecrest opened to the public. The mall featured five anchor stores, including Dillard’s, JCPenney, Parisian, Rich’s, and Sears. It became a popular shopping destination for residents in the surrounding communities.
Cityhood and Business Development
In 2014, the Mayor of Lithonia proposed plans to annex parts of the City of Stonecrest, including Stonecrest Mall. However, these plans were met with opposition from numerous business owners, who formed a task force to study annexation.
Despite Mayor’s activity, the City of Stonecrest was eventually created through a public referendum in 2016, with official municipal incorporation in 2017.
Since then, the Stonecrest Business Alliance has been established to focus on the Stonecrest Overlay District. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners also created the East Metro DeKalb Community Improvement District in 2014.
Incidents in The Mall at Stonecrest
Despite its success, the Mall at Stonecrest has not been without incidents. In May 2009, the management instituted its Parental Involvement Program (“anti-teenager policy”) in response to violent disruptions.
The policy mandated that anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult after a 4 pm curfew on weekends or be forced to leave by mall security.
A violent altercation broke out in April 2010 over a dispute regarding a parking space, resulting in a stabbing and a shooting. And in December 2011, police had to quell a disturbance at the mall on the day of releasing a new Air Jordan limited edition shoe.
Stonecrest Mall has seen its ups and downs in terms of commercial performance. In January 2013, reports surfaced that the mall was “beset by debt issues that could leave it vulnerable to foreclosure.”
And in November 2016, Kohl’s closed its doors in the former Parisian building. However, the mall welcomed Round One Entertainment in March 2017, and in June 2021, SeaQuest announced plans to build its largest aquarium in the former Sears store.
And in August 2021, the vacant Kohl’s became a Lisa Young beauty supply store.
As of 2023, the mall’s anchors are Dillard’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, Lisa Young, and SeaQuest Interactive Aquariums.
Future Developments of The Mall at Stonecrest
Stonecrest Resorts, the real estate development company behind SeaQuest at Stonecrest, has announced an ambitious plan to transform the Mall at Stonecrest into a “family entertainment and lifestyle destination.” Anchored by the popular aquarium, the company plans to use the 15-acre property to create a new space.
The company recently unveiled plans for Privi, a large retail and entertainment concept that will feature a food hall, shared office space, a health and wellness complex, an axe-throwing attraction, a comedy venue, a bookstore, and several other attractions.
Vaughn Irons, principal and developer of Stonecrest Resorts believes that Privi will become a unique destination that draws visitors from across the southeast region.
“Privi is designed to be a one-of-a-kind culinary, entertainment, and tourism destination that will evolve into the new gathering place for the east metro Atlanta community,” Irons said in a news release. “Our goal is to provide a space for families to come together and create lasting memories.”
With the success of SeaQuest at Stonecrest and the company’s commitment to creating a vibrant, family-friendly destination, it’s clear that the Mall at Stonecrest is poised for an exciting transformation in the coming years.
Conclusion about Stonecrest Mall
Since its opening in 2001, Stonecrest Mall has been a significant retail hub for the eastern part of the Atlanta metro area.
Despite facing challenges and setbacks over the years, the mall has remained a popular destination for shoppers and a source of economic activity for the community.
With plans for future development and ongoing renovations, the mall is poised to continue to serve as a vital part of the community for years to come.