Go-karts, a video arcade, a bowling alley and a trampoline park could potentially be coming to the vacant Frederick Towne Mall under its new name, District 40.
The project, named after U.S. 40, is expected to become a premier entertainment center. Faraz Cheema, real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Commercial, said that negotiations with potential tenants are underway, but are still in the early stages.
The first tenant, Warehouse Cinemas, has signed a lease and is expected to open next summer. The theater will be about 40,000 square feet, leaving approximately 300,000 square feet left to fill.
Home Depot, which is connected to the old mall, is technically not included in the property. Cheema said that Boscov’s still has a lease, but he could not disclose further details.
The only roadblock to acquiring more tenants is getting the space rezoned. It was zoned general commercial with conditions when a Walmart Supercenter was expected to come there in 2013, said David Newman, president of the Golden Mile Alliance. But now that a Walmart isn’t coming, the building needs to be zoned general commercial.
Warehouse Cinemas’ lease was not dependent on that rezoning. The city of Frederick’s Planning Commission will vote on the rezoning at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
An entertainment center is something that’s missing from Frederick, Cheema said. “With these other tenants, if we do lock them [down], it would be a huge breath of fresh air for Frederick,” Cheema said. “Instead of local residents traveling to the D.C. or Baltimore area, we really want to entertain the local residents so they don’t have to leave the city or the county.”
The mall was, for a long time, the anchor of the Golden Mile, and its revitalization could bring the area back with it. It could also help boost the local economy, said Newman.
“Getting the mall fixed up into something other than a vacant building is going be a huge boost for the whole area, absolutely,” Newman said. “It’s going to draw more traffic, and you know, other businesses are going to pop up all around it.”
Cheema and his real estate team have been working closely with the Golden Mile Alliance on the project.
“We certainly do support the effort of changing the mall into an entertainment destination,” Newman said. “We think it’s a great idea and we think it’s going to be very successful.”
If an entertainment center were to move in, it could also boost tourism, Cheema said. Visitors from West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania, who could also be short of entertainment options, might come to Frederick to spend a day or night. In tandem with downtown Frederick, visitors would have plenty of destinations and activities to choose from.
Mayor Michael O’Connor supports the project as well. He said that while the nature of retail has definitely changed over the years, the businesses that have succeeded have more of a destination feel to them.
“That remains a very important commercial corridor, and the opportunity for this project to demonstrate that viability is a very important step for the city.”