After a summer of “no news” on a multi-million dollar commercial development on Albertville’s north side, the Mall of Entertainment is now moving forward after the city approved a comprehensive environmental study for the project at its meeting on Nov. 14.
The Albertville City Council approved what is known as an AUAR – Alternative Urban Areawide Review – after members of the Black Forest development group appeared in front of the board last week.
The study, which is done in conjunction with the city and state agencies, will examine everything from land preparation to traffic controls and road access. It should take several months, but preliminary plats can be submitted to the city as the process unfolds. No approvals can be made by the city planning commission or city council until that AUAR is completed, however.
That’s going to push the firm – headed by Otsego’s Darkenwald Development in conjunction with several other investors – to change its construction schedule a bit. In original press releases the group had hoped to have some of the amenities ready to go by 2017. Instead, according to Albertville City Administrator Adam Nafstad, Black Forest will be looking to start construction late in the season of 2017 with most of the mall to be complete before the 2018 holiday shopping season. It would also include Marriott Hotel, according to preliminary plans.
According to information provided by the developers and a website put together to promote the project, the development is set for land north of the Albertville Premium Outlets, on the west side of County Highway 19. In all, it will cover 18 acres of land when completed.
Though it will be paired with Sony Pictures, a la Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America, it will not host a theater.
“It’s something that fits within our comprehensive plan, and it will be very exciting to see this move forward,” said Larry Sorensen, Albertville City Council member. “It’s great news for the city.”
One of the three partners in the project – Casey Darkenwald of Darkenwald Industries – discussed the land with the council in 2015, saying his vision for the area was entertainment and hospitality. With the Albertville Premium Outlets providing a destination for shoppers not only from the Twin Cities but from the Dakotas and Alberta, Canada, to the tune of millions of dollars per year, the project seems a perfect fit.
The site states Black Forest LLC is a cooperative venture between Darkenwald, Robert Kelly of Roy Anderson Corporation and IP2 Entertainment. IP2 has opened venues like the proposed “MOE” in places such as Manila, Philippines, and Jakarta, Indonesia.