Lakeforest Mall to Close at the End of March after Almost 45 Years

by MCS Staff

WRS, Inc. officially announced that Lakeforest Mall will be closing at the end of March, after almost 45 years in Gaithersburg. The closing of the mall aligns with the recently announced closing of Macy’s, the last of the remaining anchor stores at the mall. The announcement was made at a City of Gaithersburg Mayor and City Council meeting on Tuesday night. WRS plans to demolish “as soon as they can.” Financing requires the mall to remain as an option in case “things go really sideways”, which could cause WRS to have to look at re-tenanting the mall. It was made clear that WRS does not intend to do this, but needs to keep it as an option. Previously, WRS mentioned 2024 as a target date for demolition to occur and new construction to begin.

Lakeforest Mall first opened on September 12, 1978. At that time, the mall’s anchor stores were JCPenney, Sears, Woodward & Lothrop, and Hecht’s. The mall was one of the first in the United States to feature an indoor ice skating rink on the lower level, in the “H section”, along with being the biggest indoor shopping mall in the county at the time of grand opening. The ice skating rink was replaced by a NTI Theaters movie theater in 1984, later renamed Cineplex Odeon Lakeforest 5, then by a food court, which now occupies the space. The mall was built on top of Lake Walker, a park on the property prior. The mall opened with approximately 30-50 stores, with some of the first stores being relocated from the then nearby indoor Village Mall (now an outdoor strip mall called Montgomery Village Center since 1991) and absorbed onto the property.

A recommendation by the City of Gaithersburg’s Planning Commission followed by a decision by the Mayor and City Council is expected to happen this spring. Preliminary plans recently presented by WRS can be seen here.

Featured photo courtesy of GaithersburgHistory.com

 

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12 comments

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Mirko January 17, 2023 - 10:44 pm

I remember me going to the mall with my Mom in the 90’s. It was always a experience to visit Lakeforest along with Montgomery and White Flint Mall. WF is demolished and empty, while Lakeforest is going to close and mostly likely remain in WF condition for a while, empty and deserted. Montgomery, Wheaton, and Silver Spring (Ellsworth) are nothing like they were in the 90’s, so another part of 90’s America lost.

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Nardi January 19, 2023 - 9:47 am

I know what you are saying! The same here. We are losing the beauty of America. USA has the most outstanding malls than any other country in the 90’s. I wish God will bring something to keep that LFM to our City of Gaithersburg!

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kenn January 28, 2023 - 1:00 pm

I met my later wife at Lakeforest mall. I am sad to see it go.

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JWM January 18, 2023 - 4:40 pm

Crime infested , nasty ,filthy area…just look at the chewing gum spewed all over the entrances…..Should have been gone decades ago…

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Nardi January 19, 2023 - 10:01 am

@jwm you must not know LF mall in the 90’s or you must not have been born at that time. Yes for the past few years the mall is totally to the opposite than it was in the 90’s . You know if I am a millionaire, I will pay any price to bring LFM back to its original place( To the Beautiful City of Gaithersburg)! It was beautiful, classic, clean and close to our house in West deer park rd.

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Raj January 18, 2023 - 10:17 pm

The first mall I went to when I came to The United States in 1990. Lots of memories of that place. Very sad to see it closed.

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Peewee January 18, 2023 - 10:23 pm

I was pregnant with my 4th child when they started construction and a lot of us was glad because we didn’t have to travel so far to get to the stores, and the movies and the skating rink was a very big plus, it’s a shame that all the residents money will go to another part of the county to build them up in schools, recreation, and nothing for this part of the county all we needed was a little cosmetic upgrade, why would those that have after the little man has build them up to live like kings and queens why would they give us anything we can afford and enjoy.

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Kathleen Worth January 19, 2023 - 7:49 am

I had just moved up here in 1999. By 2001 we had our 1st child and 2002 our second. That middle area of the mall was a saving grace. The kids could come and play and meet with a few friends. They loved to hop around like it was a game board and they were little pieces. (We were playing lots of games at home.) The frog’s tongue was the best when they could jump off that. There was a time they had an attendant. They would not let my 5 year old in just because he was tall. Hello. I had a 3 year old and a 5 year old. SERIOUSLY? SO, we had to pull out the toys we carried with us and played on the stairs as they watched. That is when I slowly stopped coming. I came for Santa for my 3rd child. And we sometimes went shopping. But shopping sucked for kids except at Macy’s. Sure you could order from all their catalogs but that wasn’t the same. Lakeforest did not as the years went on have the best quality. It was like 2nd string of those stores. Because I had been in other Macy’s and Lord and Taylor and Sears just in Montgomery County and ours by the mid 2000’s stank. Yes, all Malls are dying but this one sped up its own demise in my opinion. And this is coming from someone whose kids thought that our Santa was always the best. We had lots of fun there. I am sad to see it knocked down. But I am more sad to see what is coming.

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Michael Philips January 19, 2023 - 10:56 am

I think malls are an eyesore, so I’m pleased they’re becoming obsolete, although it’s probably too much to hope it’s returned to parkland.

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C.Haggerty. January 19, 2023 - 1:25 pm

Residents define an area, good residents makes a good neighbor, good neighbor makes a good community and good communities build good cities, it’s all defined by who inhabits where.

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Gail Toomey January 19, 2023 - 8:01 pm

This mall was the best back in the day .. britches great outdoors for our slouch socks … great drinking spots .. it was clean n beautiful my daughter was born in 96 we would go almost every night n play in tbe play area then eat dinner at one of the many restaurants they had … it’s sad to see memories fade away n people not take care of things .., that whole area has just went downhill

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KCP January 20, 2023 - 12:21 am

Amazon, cheap imports, and online shopping have made shopping malls in the US moribund. They’re all struggling, and few will survive if we keep doing all our shopping from the cheapest vendors online. I grew up in the ’70s when malls reigned as a social and commercial center. I guess this is progress, and we will have to watch what happens next….

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