With Lakeforest Mall scheduled to close its doors at the end of March after 45 years, a handful of tenants remain open during its final days. Since our last update in January, Aeropostale, Bath & Body Works, Beautiful U, Champs Sports, Charly’s Cheesesteaks, and Finish Line have all closed.  Bath & Bodyworks recently opened a new location in Downtown Crown and Beautiful U has relocated to the Clarksburg Outlets. Below is a list of what was open when we stopped by on February 27:

The following businesses were not open when we stopped by, but had yet to clear their locations, so they may be open during limited hours:

  • Jackson Hewitt
  • JW Event Center
  • French Perfume
  • Melashops (relocating to Montgomery Mall)
  • Photo Forever
  • Z Planet

Below is a video of our very own Alex Tsironis discussing the future plans for the Lakeforest site:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cnk0i9pqsSk/?utm_source=ig_embed&ig_rid=71df8664-96cd-45a2-82e0-f97c751f75e5

January 17 Update: 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.

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The joint public hearing on the Lakeforest Mall Rezoning & Sketch Plan was conducted on January 17, 2023. The Planning Commission will hold their record open until 5 p.m. Friday February 17, 2023 with anticipated recommendation March 1, 2023. The Mayor & City Council hold their record open until 5 p.m. Friday March 10, 2023 with anticipated Policy Discussion April 3, 2023.

Below is a video of our very own Alex Tsironis discussing the latest meeting on Fox 5, followed by some highlights from WRS, Inc’s presentation on January 17th:

https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cnk0i9pqsSk/?igshid=MWI4MTIyMDE=

 

Any questions or comments on the application should be directed to the Planning Department at [email protected] or 301-258-6330.

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Nori Japan, one of the last remaining tenants at Lakeforest Mall, has announced its opening a new location across from the mall in the Montgomery Village Crossing shopping center.  Nori will be taking over the space that was previously occupied by Wok Express. According to signage at the restaurant, “This is the new address for the store (9615 Lost Knife Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20877) near the H Mart Shopping Center. Now we are prepping for the opening of our new store. When we finish the prepping we will posting on the Facebook. Please add my Facebook ID Wei Huang. Thank you.” According to the owner, the restaurant is just waiting on permits before it can make the move.

In other Lakeforest news, Bath & Bodyworks and Charley’s Cheesesteaks have both closed, and Macy’s is currently running a store closing clearance sale. The mall itself is expected to close at the end of March, according to a recent announcement by WRS Inc.– the mall’s new owner.

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On January 17, WRS, Inc. officially announced that Lakeforest Mall would be closing at the end of March, after almost 45 years in Gaithersburg. While there are still a handful of businesses open inside of the mall, including a pro wrestling training school, the last remaining stores are beginning to close, including Bath & Body Works and Charley’s Cheesesteaks, which both closed this past week.

Bath & Body Works is expected to open its new Gaithersburg location at Downtown Crown sometime in the next month. The new store will be located at 130 Crown Park Ave, in the location that was formerly home to Hair Cuttery, in between ZAGG and Warby Parker. Employees from the Lakeforest location have been transferred to the Germantown store at 20934 Frederick Rd.

In September, Charley’s Cheesesteaks opened a new location that also serves wings and ice cream at 405 N Frederick Ave in Gaithersburg, in the shopping center anchored by Megamart and FedEx Office.  There are also two Charleys locations expected to open in Germantown this year; one inside of Walmart in the former McDonald’s location, and one at 19877 Century Blvd.

 

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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

https://www.instagram.com/p/CnibxMEO5La/?igshid=MWI4MTIyMDE=

 

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The Mayor and City Council and the Planning Commission of the City of Gaithersburg, Maryland, will conduct a joint public hearing on Zoning Map Amendment Application Z-9444-2022 (Lakeforest Mall redevelopment) on TUESDAY JANUARY 17, 2023 AT 7:30 P.M. or as soon thereafter as this matter can be heard in the Council Chambers at 31 South Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The applicant requests approval of Zoning Map Amendment Application Z-9444-2022 that proposes to rezone the Lakeforest Mall from the current C-2 (general commercial) to the MXD Zone (mixed-use). The application includes a sketch plan requesting up to approximately 1.2 million square feet of non-residential uses and up to 1,600 dwelling units on 102 acres of land in accordance with 24-160D.9(a) Application for the MXD Zone and sketch plan approval of the City Code. The subject properties are located at 701 Russell Ave Gaithersburg, MD 20877.

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Clearance sales are underway at the Lakeforest Mall Macy’s (701 Russell Ave) in Gaithersburg. Last week Macy’s confirmed to Axios that it will be closing several locations in 2023. Currently everything in the store is between 10-40% off and discounts will increase as the store gets closer to its closing date.
Click here to see a list of what stores are still open inside of Lakeforest Mall.

This was one of the largest hurdles in order for WRS Inc. to reach its target date of 2024 for demolition of the mall and the start of new construction. A more specific date will be available after the approval of sketch plans. The City of Gaithersburg Joint Planning Commission/Mayor and City Council Hearing on the plan is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 at at City Hall, 31 S. Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

WRS purchased the core, ponds, and forest conservation of the mall back in 2019 and added the four anchor sites earlier this year, spending a total of $75 million to acquire Lakeforest Mall. At a meeting in October, WRS announced that they have worked with the City of Gaithersburg since March and plan to submit their zoning application and sketch plan in the next couple weeks. As mentioned above, the target date for demolition of the mall and the start of new construction is currently 2024, with a more specific date to come after the approval of sketch plans. The sketch plan requires at least 35% “green space” and WRS stated that initial sketches are currently at a little more than 35%. Green space is defined as trees, grass, walking/biking areas, etc.

The current retention pond will be “cleaned up” and a boardwalk is in the plans for a dining experience on the water  that was described as being similar to what is available at nearby Rio Lakefront. WRS has also heard from several different movie theaters that are geared towards adults with food offerings and a bar, mentioning one that has a very robust civic program that would allow community groups to use one theater per week for their own functions. No specific names were given and it was noted that a discussion “doesn’t mean it’ll happen”.

A national builder has signed on to build all the various type of housing that will be available at the new development (areas G-P in the map pictured below). The name has not been released yet because the builder wants to announce it in a future press release. MCDOT has would also like to see an enlarged transit corner that will likely be located in area F. Area C would be heavily retail. “A place you’d go once a week to fill up the car with things you’d bring home to fill up the pantry.” A few in the crowd began to discuss Costco possibly moving to the new development, but it was never mentioned by WRS. Area D would be designated for medical offices, a space for a business to move its headquarters, lab space, etc.

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Lakeforest Mall has been in the news a lot recently. Lakeforest owner WRS is proposing a full redevelopment of the space that will include both residential and commercial use. WRS spent $75 million to purchase the mall’s core, ponds, forest conservation, and four anchor sites and has targeted 2024 to begin demolition. Yesterday we reported that both Macy’s and Bath & Body Works will be leaving the mall in the near future and MoCo Show founder Alex T. appeared on FOX 5 to discuss all the recent developments. Below that is a list of what was open, and a few photos, from when we stopped by on January 5, 2023:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CnDK4piIkhS/

Food/Beverage:

  • Charley’s Philly Steaks
  • Kelly’s Cajun Grill
  • Nori Japan

Lower Level:

  • 777 Foot Spa
  • Aeropostale
  • Bath & Bodyworks
  • Beautiful U (eyebrows, waxing)
  • Best Medicine Rx (theater group)
  • Cell Fix (kiosk)
  • Central Newsstand
  • Champs Sports
  • Finish Line
  • French Perfume
  • Home Décor & More (by appointment only)
  • Photo Forever
  • Rainbow (clothing)
  • Renaissance Rumble (pro wrestling training school)
  • Time Out Zone (arcade)
  • Z Planet
  • Walden Jewelers

Upper Level:

  • AmeriGo (car and RV rentals)
  • Essie Allen (clothing)
  • JW Event Center (party rentals)
  • Macy’s / Macy’s Backstage (closing soon)
  • Melashops
  • New Passion Nail Spa
  • So What Else (food and resource charity)
  • Style One (clothing)
  • Trade My Cell
  • USI: United Security Incorporated

 

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WRS Inc., a real estate investment firm based out of South Carolina, that purchased Lakeforest Mall and all four anchor sites, will present their latest plan for Lakeforest Mall on Wednesday, January  4 at 1pm at Asbury Methodist Village (409 Russell Avenue) in Gaithersburg. According to the Village News, “Guests should enter via the Gatehouse at 301 Odendhal Avenue and continue straight. The Rosborough Cultural Arts & Wellness Center is on the right (building 409) with parking across the street. Additionally, the City of Gaithersburg Joint Planning Commission/Mayor and City Council Hearing on the plan is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 at at City Hall, 31 S. Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.”

WRS held a similar informational meeting on October 20 at the mall. WRS purchased the core, ponds, and forest conservation of the mall back in 2019 and added the four anchor sites earlier this year, spending a total of $75 million to acquire Lakeforest Mall. This evening they announced that they have worked with the City of Gaithersburg since March and plan to submit their zoning application and sketch plan in the next couple weeks. The target date for demolition of the mall and the start of new construction is currently 2024, with a more specific date to come after the approval of sketch plans. The sketch plan requires at least 35% “green space” and WRS stated that initial sketches are currently at a little more than 35%. Green space is defined as trees, grass, walking/biking areas, etc.

The current retention pond will be “cleaned up” and a boardwalk is in the plans for a dining experience on the water  that was described as being similar to what is available at nearby Rio Lakefront. WRS has also heard from several different movie theaters that are geared towards adults with food offerings and a bar, mentioning one that has a very robust civic program that would allow community groups to use one theater per week for their own functions. No specific names were given and it was noted that a discussion “doesn’t mean it’ll happen.”

A national builder has signed on to build all the various type of housing that will be available at the new development (areas G-P in the map pictured below). The name has not been released yet because the builder wants to announce it in a future press release. MCDOT has would also like to see an enlarged transit corner that will likely be located in area F. Area C would be heavily retail. “A place you’d go once a week to fill up the car with things you’d bring home to fill up the pantry.” A few in the crowd began to discuss Costco possibly moving to the new development, but it was never mentioned by WRS. Area D would be designated for medical offices, a space for a business to move its headquarters, lab space, etc.

Following the approval of its zoning application and sketch plan, WRS will work on site development that will include a series of detailed site plans. Below are the images displayed by WRS at tonight’s meeting:

     

 

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Per Gaithersburg Police: On Saturday, December 10, 2022 at 8:58 p.m., Gaithersburg Police responded to the Macy’s located at 701 Russell Avenue in Lakeforest Mall for the report of a shoplifting. Two male suspects entered the store and one male suspect selected merchandise. Both suspects then exited the store without paying. While both suspects were fleeing, one of the male suspects brandished a firearm.

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WRS Inc. has submitted Zoning Map Amendment application Z-9444-2022 that proposes to rezone the Lakeforest Mall from the current C-2 (general commercial) to the MXD Zone (mixed-use) zone. The application includes a sketch plan requesting up to approximately 1.2 million square feet of non-residential uses and up to 1,600 dwelling units on 102 acres of land. A Joint Public Hearing is scheduled for January 17, 2023.

WRS is proposing a full redevelopment of the Lakeforest Mall to allow for a multi- stage, mixed-use community with up to:

• 1,600 dwelling units comprised of multi-family (rental and ownership), townhomes, and GAP housing (2over2, triplex, et al.)
• 750,000 square feet of employment uses (hereinafter defined to include professional office, financial institutions and banks, medical office, life sciences, research and development, and integrated light manufacturing uses
• 250,000 square feet of large format retail uses
• 220,000 square feet of neighborhood scaled commercial and entertainment/amusement
uses.

Further, the Sketch Plan proposes to accommodate MCDOT’s desire to re-locate and enhance the Lakeforest Transit Center, improving the future operation of Bus Rapid Transit along Frederick Avenue. The plan proposes dividing the redeveloped Mall into 16 blocks, A through P:

• Block A is a community park
• Blocks C, B, D and E, will define the commercial core of the Property
• Block F is the location of the relocated Lakeforest Transit Center
• Block J is identified as a community green space and amenity location
• Blocks G through P, comprising the southern portion of the Property is envisioned to be a mix of townhouse, Gap housing, and multi-family condominium units.


WRS purchased the core, ponds, and forest conservation of the mall back in 2019 and added the four anchor sites earlier this year, spending a total of $75 million to acquire Lakeforest Mall. In October, WRS held an informational meeting on Thursday evening to share some early plans for what will take the place of the mall. Per that meeting, the target date for demolition of the mall and the start of new construction is currently 2024,

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