The victim of last Monday’s stabbing at Lakeforest was Jose Alexander Maldonado. A coworker described Maldonado as someone who “stayed out of trouble” and told us the attack appeared to be unprovoked. One of Maldonado’s former teachers remembers him as “a nice young man” who he ran into a few times since teaching him a few years back. “He was a good kid who became a good man and went out of his way to catch up with me every time he saw me.”

His mother, Silvia Maldonado, has started a GoFundMe to raise funds for funeral expenses. According to the fundraiser description, Jose was the only one in the family with an income and helped his mother raise her three children. His brother, Christian Maldonado, tells us his family has been residents of Montgomery County their whole life.

Jose Maldonado, of Gaithersburg, was a T-Mobile employee inside of the mall. His coworker told us the incident began inside of the Metro by T-Mobile, which is located near the mall’s food court. When officers and paramedics arrived, they found Maldonado suffering from multiple stab wounds. He was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased to the hospital.

From Montgomery County Police:

“Detectives from the Montgomery County Police – Major Crimes Division are currently investigating the February 21 homicide that occurred in the 700 block of Russell Avenue in Gaithersburg.

At approximately 11 a.m., Montgomery County officers from the 6th District and Gaithersburg Police responded to Lakeforest Mall for an assault that just occurred inside of the mall, near the food court. Officers arrived at the scene and located an adult male suffering from multiple stab wounds.

The victim was transported to an area hospital in critical condition. The victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

The suspect is described as a black male, wearing dark pants/dark jeans, and a dark winter jacket. The attacker was seen running towards Macy’s shortly after the incident.

Currently, there is no suspect in custody. This is an active and ongoing homicide investigation.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240- 773- 5070 or contact Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the homicide suspect(s). Callers may remain anonymous.”

Melashops, the bazaar for South Asian fashion, is now open every weekend at Lakeforest Mall. The shop was previously open one weekend per month for the last 6 months, but due to customer demand and growth, has made the decision open every weekend– Saturdays 11am-7pm and Sundays 11am-6pm.
Inspired by the fashion bazaars and boutiques of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Melashops connects buyers with local independent vendors of South Asian apparel, jewelry, and accessories, at a permanent home in Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, Maryland,
“We are in effect, a mall-within-a-mall and the only multi-vendor shopping destination for South Asian apparel in the DMV area.”
Their vendors provide the full spectrum of South Asian clothing, including sarees, dresses, menswear, kids wears, high-end bridal wear, fancy Bollywood party dresses, casual wear, as well as lots of detailed jewelry.
Some vendors are permanently located at the store and other vendors attend as their schedule permits. Holidays such as Eid and Diwali can be especially packed and busy.
The shop also also have an experienced tailor on-site available to custom make matching blouses and dresses as needed as well as for alterations.
The address is:
(located upstairs near the escalators at the center of the mall)
More information can be found at:

Last night (December 14th), the City of Gaithersburg Mayor and City Council held a joint work session with the Gaithersburg Planning commission to discuss findings from the Lakeforest Mall Master Plan engagement efforts.

On August 10th, the Mayor and City Council put into motion an amendment process for the Lakeforest Mall Master Plan, which would consider input from extensive public engagement to then produce a new design plan for the Lakeforest site that establishes an overall vision for the future development.

The public engagement strategy yielded 3,463 respondents to an online survey, with 739 paper surveys received.  This put the response rate for City of Gaithersburg residents at 10.4%.

In a presentation given to the Mayor and council, Gaithersburg Long Range Planning Manager Rob Robinson stated that the findings of the public engagement efforts have shown that there is a majority consensus that the Lakeforest site’s redevelopment should be mixed use. The Planning Department estimates that there will be 20,000 new City of Gaithersburg residents by 2045, which each bring demand for increased housing, jobs, and mixed use needs.

Robinson additionally noted that the Lakeforest site should be a “destination” that would generate a special “sense of place” that appeals to a diverse set of people from a wide array of communities. Walkability and inclusion of green spaces also was important to the public, according to the Planning Department.

Ultimately, the Planning Department has recommended a master plan amendment that address three main facets: support area housing needs, create jobs across several career levels, and create economic activity. The Planning Department emphasized the need to go beyond standard mixed use playbooks for the Lakeforest site. Usually, people think of a combination of residential and retail sites when they hear the phrase “mixed-use”. Planning Dept. staff has suggested considering other mixed use options, including R&D, community & civic uses, light manufacturing, etc. It will be interesting to see how much of these types of spaces will be included in the eventual redevelopment of the site. Eventually, the Planning Department recommends the replacement of much of the surface parking lot space with more inventive uses.

In terms of next steps, the composition of the Master Plan will get going in earnest following this Joint Work Session, with a draft of the Master Plan set to be generated in spring of 2021, with eventual adoption and approval of the plan tentatively set for summer of 2021.




What Should Lakeforest Mall’s Future  Be? Let Your Voice Be Heard

The City of Gaithersburg is seeking public input on the future of the Lakeforest Mall site and has released a public input survey this morning — to participate in the survey, please visit

The survey, which consists of 19 questions, is extensive and allows for participants to state which amenities would attract them to Lakeforest, chime in on what types of businesses are most needed by Lakeforest’s surrounding community, and even give preferences on future traffic circulation patterns in future Lakeforest development sites.

Back in August, we discussed how the City of Gaithersburg Mayor and City Council passed a resolution that proclaimed a one-year moratorium on development at Lakeforest Mall. Last year, developer WRS, Inc. purchased much of the Lakeforest Mall space, but has been unable to further expand on development due to J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Sears, and Lord & Taylor owning the land that their stores are on.

Despite opposition from WRS, the City of Gaithersburg opted to extend this moratorium to garner public input on the future of the Lakeforest Mall site. The possibilities for the Lakeforest Mall site hold a great deal of importance for the surrounding community, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

By Daniel Garay


The Future of Lakeforest Mall, Revisited

Yesterday, on August 17, the Gaithersburg Mayor and City Council passed a resolution to declare a one-year moratorium on development at Lakeforest Mall.

The decision comes from the expiration of development agreements with WRS Inc., the new owner of the mall. It was the second extension of the City’s initial plans with WRS.

WRS has not acquired any of the mall’s four anchor properties since their initial purchase of other parts of the mall last year. The four anchor properties are still owned by the parent companies of Sears, Lord & Taylor, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s.

During the moratorium, the City plans to conduct studies and public engagement in order to assess the best path for redevelopment moving forward. The moratorium is set to expire on August 18, 2021.

For more information, check out the resolution here: 

By Nyrene Monforte


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