2019 | Business

South Carolina Real Estate Group Buys Lakeforest Mall

Sale does not include four anchor-store parcels

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Lakeforest mall in Gaithersburg, the city's first enclosed mall.


A commercial real estate agency in South Carolina is buying Lakeforest mall in Gaithersburg, which was put on the market in March.

WRS Inc. Real Estate Investments has developed over 40 retail shopping centers across Georgia, Florida, and North and South Carolina, but will make its first foray in the North after buying Lakeforest mall from U.S. Bank.

The deal with WRS did not include the mall’s four anchor tenants, a representative from Petrie Richardson Ventures said on Wednesday. The Annapolis-based retail developer will serve as property manager for the mall.

J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Sears and Lord & Taylor each own their individual spaces, none of which was expected to be included in a sale when U.S. Bank put the property on the market.

Any major changes to the property would require the buyer to purchase those properties or reach an agreement between all property owners, Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman has said.

The new owner is excited to have finalized the purchase and plans to continue operating the 1 million-square-foot shopping center as a mall for the foreseeable future, WRS Executive Vice President Kevin Rogers wrote in an email.

Rogers declined to share specific financial details of the transaction.

Chicago-based real estate advisory firm Jones Lang LaSalle handled the sale on behalf of U.S. Bank, marketing it as a “well-located regional shopping center” possessing “significant upside and redevelopment potential.”

A representative from Jones Lang LaSalle declined to comment on details of the sale, for confidentiality reasons.

U.S. Bank purchased the 102-acre property for $19.1 million in January 2018.

Petrie Richardson emerged as a potential buyer of the mall in February 2018, though a deal never materialized.

Ashman wrote in an email that the city is looking forward to working with WRS and the timing of the sale coincides with local government’s consideration of a master plan review for Lakeforest.

A government enterprise zone was expanded in the summer of 2018 to include the mall, providing tax breaks and other incentives for the developers of any potential projects in the area.

Charlie Wright can be reached at charlie.wright@bethesdamagazine.com