Lakeforest Mall Deteriorates

The mall's glory days are behind her, what's next for the 102-acre property?

Posted by Keith on September 5, 2021 9:21AM

A place to indulge is how Lakeforest Mall is billed on its website.

Lakeforest Mall Website Screenshot

I live within walking distance to the mall, I haven't indulged at the mall in probably 2 years. Part of that is covid, but it's more that I can't see why I would go to Lakeforest Mall.

Of the four "anchor stores," Macy's is the only one left standing. Sbarro is no longer in the food court.

It wasn't always like this though. Lakeforest Mall hasn't always been merely a giant parking for dumping stolen cars.

The mall opened in 1978. At the time, there was an ice skating rink. That must have been pretty cool for 1978. The rink was located where the current food court resides.

Gaithersburg resident and candidate for city council this November, Lisa Henderson described the mall as a big part of the community.

Lakeforest Mall is "where I learned to ice skate and where my parents felt safe dropping me off to go shopping with friends," Henderson said.

I read there was a movie theater at one point. I've only lived in Gaithersburg for about 6 years.

Here's a photo I found on the Wikipedia page about the mall. It's the grand opening ceremony in 1978.

Lakeforest Mall Grand Opening 1978

The glory days of Lakeforest Mall are certainly in the rear view mirror, as is the case with most malls built in the 1970s and '80s.

Here's what the outside of the mall looks like now.

Former JC Penny Entrance

Lakeforest Mall JCPenny Entrance

Former Lord & Taylor Entrance

Lakeforest Mall Lord Entrance

Outside the Shuttered Sears

Lakeforest Mall Sears

Parking Lot Rusty Pole

Lakeforest Mall Parking

What's Next?

It is unclear what happens with this 102 acre chunk of Gaithersburg. The city council recently approved the Lakeforest Mall Redevelopment Master Plan. However, there doesn't appear to much muscle behind the council's effort.

The master plan isn't a concrete proposal to redevelop the property, it's merely the city's stated desire for the property which future developers should consider when designing their projects.

The city council and mayor are taking a very hands-off approach towards any redevelopment effort for the property. It is a complex set of circumstances with several property owners involved.

However, the successful redevelopment of this critical property could make or break those of us who live east of 270.

For the foreseeable future, we'll be looking at cracked asphalt, rusty poles and 20th century storefronts with no signs on them.