A huge entertainment, waterpark, hotel and convention center development is being proposed near the Albertville Premium Outlets.
Though nothing has yet come to the city in terms of planning or city council attention, city officials are confirming that the project has been announced by the developer. The project is proposed to break ground this summer and open in late 2017.
Albertville City Administrator Adam Nafstad said the developer announced publicly its intentions for the development, but added that much work needs to be done in terms of project approvals.
“We don’t have a formal application,” he said. “The developers have not come to the council with a concept plan. We have for the last couple years been talking to the property owners about this concept or a concept like this.”
The site is located at the northwest corner of the outlet mall.
According to the developer, Black Forest LLC (moemn.com), the Mall of Entertainment will feature “a world-class entertainment venue in Albertville that will feature an interactive indoor waterpark, an exploration-based out-of-home adventure, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Back-Lot edutainment experience and a 275-room Marriot Hotel and convention center.”
Black Forest said the project will be “a special place where parents and children go to spend time together while they play, jump, climb, explore and learn about our world through the incredible and often breathtaking experiences.”
Black Forest added: “And when they’re done exploring, they can go behind the scenes of some of the greatest films in history and create their own movies at the Sony Pictures back-lot experience. Finally, when they’re finished with the jungles of Madagascar or basking in the glory of stardom, they can cool off in the Twin Cities’ only completely interactive indoor waterpark. With multiple days of entertainment, this all-inclusive resort will become a must-see tourist destination as well as a locals’ favorite.
“The prime, high-traffic location is located along the easily accessible I-94 corridor (80,000 cars a day) and next to the Albertville Premium Outlet malls, a 430,000-square-foot mall with more than 5 million annual visitors. It’s also just 35 minutes away from the Mall of America, a No. 5 in exports to China from the USA.”
Black Forest LLC is partnership between Casey Darkenwald, Robert Kelly, Kevin Hanson, and iP2 Entertainment, “leaders in Minnesota real estate development, construction, finance, and entertainment experiences respectively,” the partnership said.
The Sony Pictures center is proposed to feature movie-making and game-based activities, and there could be a National Geographic-branded center called “Ultimate Explorer.”
Area development company Darkenwald Family has owned land for years near the mall and had indicated to the city interest in building a huge complex at the site.
But Nafstad said there is “a lot of work to be done before approvals are given.”
He said there will be several development applications.
“Their next step, in terms of city process, is they need to submit site and building application, and Planned Unit Development zoning application,” Nafstad said. “A project like this will also require an environmental review.”
While the project will require several approvals, Nafstad said the concept fits current zoning at the site.
The developers said the new development would create 2,000 jobs for construction and employees who will manage and operate the complex.