Joanne S. Lawton
Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg was bought in late July for around $22.5 million by South Carolina-based WRS Inc. in hopes of finding a better use for the space.
Built in 1978, the mall was recently bought with the goal of redeveloping the property. Lakeforest’s decades of shopping history have many Clarksburg residents upset about the mall’s final destiny.
“I think it’s sad the mall is closing. I have a lot of memories there. My parents used to take me there all the time when I was younger back in the ’80s,” foreign language teacher Kristin Chilton said.
WRS says it is looking forward to “exciting things to come” at the site and has hinted at a number of future outlooks for the area including a hotel, residential area, grocery store or a movie theater. Their purchase included the mall’s core but not the anchor department stores.
“I can’t believe they’re closing the mall. I would always go there with my family and friends. I would get most of my clothes and shoes from Sears and Macy’s. It’s really upsetting that I won’t be able to shop at those stores as often I used to,” sophomore Nayeli Perez said.
The mall’s core stores are beginning to leave as well. JCPenny closed in early July, Lord & Taylor closed last month, and Sears plans to close in December while Macy’s should continue through the end of the year.
While some people are sad that the mall is permanently closing, others think the idea of it closing is beneficial for the community. The sale comes nearly two years after the mall’s owner, Five Mile Capital, went into foreclosure, according to Washington Business Journal.
“I don’t care that it’s closing because I felt unsafe every time I went there. I would often see a group of teens doing suspicious activity that they shouldn’t be doing,” sophomore Carley Neidecker said.