Last November, owners of White Flint Mall held a meeting with members of the community and in the Dave & Busters restaurant to explain the basics of their plans for the mall, which is 35 years old.
In short, White Flint’s owners explained that they “de-mall” it, or turn it into an outdoor town center project. There was little beyond that, but now we know more.
Lerner Enterprises and the Tower Cos., owners of the mall, submitted a sketch plan to the county recently which, though not complete, offers a much more robust look at what they plan to replace the mall with. The plans are still far from approved, but they show how much time and effort the companies, and architects from Boston-based Elkus Manfredi, have put into figuring how to maximize the 45-acre site, a few blocks south of the White Flint Metro station.
As the drawing here shows, the tallest new buildings would be in the property’s northwestern portion. All of the buildings in the planned redevelopment are arranged around a 2.1-acre core public open space, which the developers describe as a “Central Piazza” — an aspirational reference to an open square found in some Italian towns. The design team explained that they were inspired by the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and that it would feature, “a fountain, outdoor café seating, and both paved and green recreation and gathering areas.”
The mall’s two anchors, Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor, are still drawn into the project because they own their own properties, even though the Bloomingdale’s is scheduled to close shortly (and is offering sales of 50 to 70 percent off).
Much of the project would be built on what are currently the mall’s expansive surface parking lots. Almost all of the parking in the new project would eventually be either underground or in parking garages.
In all, the developers propose replacing the 850,000-square-foot mall with 2.1 million square feet of new development — practically a small town’s worth.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz