When I took office in 1993, a lot of infrastructure had been put in out there. There were water lines and roads, but it had just laid dormant for 18 years.
We got a lot of complaints from the people in the area about there being no good places to shop, no restaurants and so on.
It appeared to me this was something that just made sense to do.
I made up my mind that something was going to happen while I was there.
To do a development like this, you have to get your anchors. If we could just get the five anchors, the rest would fall into place. They started with five anchors – J.C. Penney, Dillard’s, Sears, Parisian and Macy’s – which was unheard of. It was the first Dillard’s in DeKalb County.
It made good sense to give an incentive to an area that needed it. A couple of commissioners felt it was corporate welfare. Today, the Kia plant wouldn’t have opened without incentives, but back then it wasn’t very common.
When you have developable land that had languished for 18 years, you have to give it something, a boost, a shot in the arm.
Business people always look at the bottom line. It has to make sense. The mall really and truly brought a lot of good stores there. Gosh, who knows when that would have happened without the incentives. Sometimes you have to give to receive.
We worked on it for a long time and I am grateful for the people who helped.
The mall has done a tremendous thing for the community. I look at it as a regional shopping center. It brings jobs, it brings property taxes, and it brings sales taxes.
It has pulled business from Rockdale County. It has attracted a great deal of big-box stores. It brought in a variety of different stores that made the area flourish.
‘It is still a viable area’
I was there when it opened, and it was such a wonderful feeling to see the look on people’s faces. It was a well-thought-out plan that was done very nicely.
I was so pleased that it was providing service to people who deserve it and who no longer had to drive miles for shopping and restaurants.
I believe the land would still be vacant if we hadn’t done what we did.
I know there is still a lot of land to develop, but it is still a viable area. There still is room for good commercial development. With the economy the way it is, it will take a few more years, but I am the proverbial optimist.
With the city of Dunwoody having possession of Perimeter Center, I shudder to think what the county’s tax base would be without Stonecrest and the businesses there.
We all have to be patient and we have to realize that it is the center for a vibrant area of southeast DeKalb County.
A few years ago, I talked to the county Economic Development Office and they told me prices for land had gone up in the area.
The initial investment was minuscule compared to what we have there now.
– Liane Levetan, DeKalb CEO, 1993-1998 Editor’s note: When Liane Levetan became CEO of DeKalb County in 1993, the area now known as Stonecrest comprised acres of vacant land with Mall Parkway running through it. The 1,100 acres on which the mall now sits was a popular playground for operators of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikers. Levetan immediately became a champion of the area and fought for incentives to get the mall built.
Here she reminisces about helping to make the Mall at Stonecrest a reality.