Council in favor of local mall

By Sylvia Phillips

The DeKalb City Council said Monday it would encourage development of a local shopping mall and expressed disapproval that DeKalb County Board members voted against selling land to Wilmorite, Inc. for an enclosed shopping center.

DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow said a mall would create shopping opportunities, increase competition and force local businesses to become more efficient.

“We are here to promote and foster economic development,” he said.

The city of DeKalb is willing to work with prospective property owners, including Wilmorite Inc., whose representatives are presently considering other property in DeKalb County, said DeKalb City Manager Mark Stevens.

Fifth Ward Alderman Bessie Chronopoulos said, “What would concern me is if that facility (a mall) were to be located outside of the city or county.”

Sparrow questioned why the county zoned land for a mall, accepted an appraisal value of $1.9 million, yet voted against the sale of land when Wilmorite agreed to that price. County board members who voted against the land sale said they feared local businesses would lose customers if a mall were built.

Third Ward Alderman Bill Hanna said the county is losing money without a mall because farm rental funds total $17,000 per year, compared to several hundred thousand dollars that would be generated by a shopping mall.

In other business, the council postponed a vote on whether to hire Campbell Design Group for the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Development Ordinance.