Mall of Entertainment discussed in Albertville

by Aaron Brom

ECM Sun Newspapers

The Albertville City Council discussed the proposed Mall of Entertainment publicly for the first time since the mall developer announced its plans.

The developer, Black Forest LLC, proposes to build “a world-class entertainment venue 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.”

The site is located at the northwest corner of the outlet mall.

Albertville City Administrator Adam Nafstad said staff met with the developers the day of the council meeting, but does not have a known date when an application would be made. No city approvals or planning commission review has yet taken place — essentially nothing has officially come before the city to consider what would be necessary approvals.

“The developers are working hard, hoping to be in front of our council in March,” Nafstad said. “I know they are assembling a project team.”

He said the council discussed what to expect for a process.

The city’s review of the proposal will commence once it has an application, site plans and building plans as well as the required environmental review.

Area development company Darkenwald Family, which owns the property and is a partner in Black Forest LLC, did have a previous environmental assessment completed more than 10 years ago for the property, but that was for a commercial or industrial use and not for entertainment and hospitality.

“It’s possible (the previous assessment) could be updated,” Nafstad said. “I think it’s fair to say the council looks forward to the application and learning more about the project. Everything is extremely conceptual, what entertainment includes, the water park portion, hotel. We’re anxious to see the details and how they plan on fitting it into the property.”

He said a lot of work needs to be done, such as a traffic study and road improvements.

“We have to identify what are those issues out there, what’s needed to mitigate them,” he said. “Identify those issues before the council can start making decisions.”

There was no further discussion or action taken by the council regarding the mall.