In February of 2022, Merlin Entertainments and Philadelphia-based PREIT, a real estate development trust, announced that LEGO® Discovery Center Washington, D.C. would open in 2023 inside the shopping mall Springfield Town Center in Springfield, Virginia. [Springfield is in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the most affluent counties in America.] You read that correctly, this will be branded a “LEGO® Discovery Center” like the LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels rather than a “LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.” This is part of a re-branding effort on the part of Merlin that began in 2021. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the first two indoor attractions with the new name brand are in (or near) national capitals and not simply random big cities.
Springfield Town Center is close to Amazon’s HQ2 facility and the Transportation Security Authority’s new headquarters. It will not simply be a shopping mall as it will soon have multi-family homes and a hotel, as well.
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This is part of a larger trend. I noticed a few years ago that there were two shopping malls that were designed from the beginning to have condominiums either designed from the beginning to occupy the upper floors of multi-story buildings or adjacent tower blocks to the retail buildings in large open-air strip malls built in one affluent suburb of Chicago in Cook County and one affluent exurb in northern Lake County. More recently, I have taken note of condo towers being built in the out lots of existent malls, both indoor malls like Yorktown in Lombard, Illinois and outdoor malls like Randhurst in Mount Prospect, Illinois and Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Illinois.
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PREIT expects that cumulatively all these businesses on site will generate 28,000 jobs. LEGO® Discovery Center Washington, D.C. will occupy a 32,000-square-foot space.
“We are delighted to be opening an indoor LEGO attraction in Washington DC [sic] at Springfield Town Center,” stated Meike Lippert, Merlin’s Senior Divisional Director Midway Europe and Global New Openings. “Our LEGO themed attractions have been a huge success across the globe, providing an opportunity for adults and children to spend fun and quality time together in an awesome LEGO world. We look forward to revealing more special details over the coming months ahead to welcoming our first visitors in 2023.”
“This new attraction helps PREIT achieve its goal of creating high quality purposeful places that serve as one-stop destinations for customers at a key property in a growing market,” stated Joseph F. Coradino, Chairman and C.E.O. of PREIT. “Exceptional tenants have proven to be great catalysts throughout our portfolio and we expect that, upon opening, our trade area is expected to expand by a two hour drive time, creating success for our existing tenants and demand from others.”
Supervisor Rodney L. Lusk commented, “We are pleased to welcome this new attraction to Fairfax County. The addition is sure to drive additional economic development, attract a broader array of tourists to our County, and provide a valuable amenity for our residents.” A county supervisor in Virginia is the counterpart to a county commissioner in Illinois.
Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, stated, “We are excited to welcome this next generation LEGO® Discovery Center to Fairfax County! It is an institution for kids of all ages where they can explore their imagination. LEGO Discovery Center will draw families from across the region to family-friendly Springfield and will be an important contribution to the County.”
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 PREIT, press release, “PREIT and Merlin Entertainments to Bring Next Generation of LEGO® Discovery Centres to Serve the Washington DC [sic] Market at Springfield Town Center,” February, 2022, p. 1