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Lakeforest Mall closing March 31; plans already in the works to replace it

Gaithersburg's mayor says the location still has the potential to be lucrative.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Back when CDs were sold in stores and people only watched new releases in the theater, Lakeforest Mall was a happening place to be in Montgomery County. But, the mall's glory days have long since slipped away.

And this week the owners made it official. Lakeforest Mall will close for good at the end of March.

"I feel sad because I have good memories for this place," said shopper Gracie Rocha, who has been coming to the mall since 2012. "Many stores open, you could feel the vibe, and now, for me it's sad."

Just a handful of stores remain at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg.

And now, its owner says the mall's slow death is almost over, closing for good on March 31.

"We've seen the mall in decline for at least 15 years," said Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman. 

Ashman says the location still has the potential to be lucrative. And, the city is now considering the developer's request to rezone the land, tear down the mall, and replace it with not only more modern shopping, but homes, parks, and businesses, too.

"We want to see it as a place that the city is proud of where there are good things, fun things happening," said Ashman. "Sort of a unifying sort of place for the city of Gaithersburg."

There is no firm timeline for future plans. But public input is open on the city's website until March 10.

"In our political lifetimes, we're getting one shot at a redevelopment of Lakeforest Mall. We want to make it the very, very best it can be," said Mayor Ashman.

In the meantime, while the merchandise must go the memories for many are still fully stocked.

"Santa Claus, the elevators, the ice skating rink, the movie theaters, all that stuff," said shopper Robert Kabwasa. "I'm going to miss it."

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