Modern development to replace closing Lakeforest Mall


Photo from The Business Journals

Lakeforest Mall is closing on March 31 after 45 years of operation. A new development is set to open in the area in 2024. This new development will consist of housing, retail, and green space. The development will attempt to utilize over 100 acres that are currently occupied by Lakeforest Mall and its parking lot to bring more jobs to the area.

Once a major destination for shoppers and families to spend the day and for teenagers to meet their friends, malls have been losing business because of the rise in online shopping. The COVID pandemic has added to the troubles of shopping malls.

“The situation at Lakeforest is a common problem happening all over the country,” said economics teacher Mr. Tony Sohn. 

WRS inc., a South Carolina real estate company, bought the mall with the idea of using the land. They recently bought the Lakeforest Macy’s branch in March 2022, allowing the final closure of the mall to take place. 

A master plan for what will replace the mall has been drafted by the Gaithersburg City Council. Housing units are expected to be abundant where the mall currently stands. Specifically, there will be a cap of 1600 residential units. These units will be townhouses, apartments, and condominiums. These homes will generally be packed in the southern area of the development, with a few shared retail and residential units.

To replace the businesses that will be lost with the closure of the mall, there will be a maximum of five acres of retail space. These include full-service restaurants, carry-outs, a wholesale club, a grocery store, and a home improvement store. There will also be smaller businesses, including a pharmacy, convenience store, and bank. 

“Some space for retail is the most important thing to add to the development”, said junior Samantha Balderas. 

Additionally, there will be 1,000 surface parking spaces for the larger businesses and residential units, 6,000 less than Lakeforest Mall currently has. There will also be a multi-level parking garage. The development will attempt to have 30-35% green space which will be used for recreational purposes or serve as a buffer between parking lots. There will also be ponds located on the edges of the development. This will reduce impervious surfaces and allow runoff to absorb into the ground.

The development is also expected to have a positive effect on the area’s economy. 

“It is a good place for businesses to make a profit,” said Sohn.