Across the country, a confluence of economic and legal forces inhibit redevelopment of enclosed shopping malls, and Lakeforest Mall is no exception. Retail habits have changed. Fractured property ownership combined with a private legal agreement (a Reciprocal Easement Agreement or “REA”) requires that all owners of Lakeforest Mall agree upon changes in how the land and buildings are redeveloped.
Unlike other malls, Lakeforest has characteristics that will attract new investment once the private legal hurdles are addressed. These include:
- Large contiguous land area
- Strong real estate market
- High traffic count
- High average household income
- State and Federal incentives (Maryland Enterprise Zone and Federal Opportunity Zone)
As of Spring 2019, the four anchor department stores – Sears, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and JC Penney, remain open. Many smaller storefronts in the interior are vacant, but the center still has nationally known brands and has attracted numerous local retailers.
More stores will close. JC Penney announced intentions to shutter this location. Several national retailers that have Lakeforest stores have filed for bankruptcy and/or announced corporate restructuring. Sears still occupies its original location, but as a tenant, not an owner. The company sold its building and land to a developer in 2018.
Yes, despite its appearance, Lakeforest Mall is a collection of eight (8) separate parcels, owned by five (5) different entities. Boundary lines are not readily apparent, as parking fields and access points lack visual evidence of any borders other than the greater perimeter; buildings appear to be joined. A lender foreclosed on the core and adjacent parking fields, with intensions of finding a buyer before late 2019.
Learn more about the history of past ownership, legal constraints and redevelopment strategies in the Lakeforest Mall Report.