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 in terms of 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.
“When does city review commence?” he questioned, “Once we get an application, site 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/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.
In further matters, the council was presented with three options regarding planning commission composition and appointments.
Former Mayor Ron Klecker and Natalia Lindberg applied to keep their planning commission seats.
Before approving Klecker and Lindberg’s appointment, the council considered an option to retain five planning commissioners and a council liaison (councilor Walter Hudson, who votes with the commission when a member is absent). The second option was to keep the commission at five members but to establish a planning commission alternate. The third option was to expand the planning commission to six or seven members.
Ultimately the council supported the second option, keeping the five-member commission while adding an alternate. The alternate is expected to attend every meeting, and when another member is absent, the alternate would be able to vote.
Contact Aaron Brom at [email protected]