NEWS & EVENTS
Published on November 09
LAKE SQUARE MALL CONTINUES ITS METAMORPHOSIS
LEESBURG – “New year, new look.”
That’s the motto Lake Square Mall officials are living by as renovations started earlier this year continue.
Mall spokeswoman Anna Marie Chwastiak said the mall’s exterior improvements and several new attractions inside are set to be finished by early 2019.
The exterior upgrades include a multi-million dollar façade, a main entrance with covered drive-up and drop-off lanes, a glass enclosure with artistic lighting, a reconfigured parking lot and landscaping.
A long walkway, Chwastiak said, will stretch from both sides of the mall’s main entrance and across the parking lot area to medical facilities and new businesses to be located just off of U.S. Highway 441.
To help, the City of Leesburg awarded mall owners a $500,000 grant for the façade.
“When it’s done, it’s definitely going to change the face of the mall, plus the walkways will be functional,” Chwastiak said.
Inside, a number of new stores have just opened, but the upcoming events and attractions, Chwastiak said, are what’s going to make the mall a destination.
She said one of the most exciting additions is Winterland, a family-friendly attraction that will include a professional ice skating rink surrounded by a winter village complete with live entertainment and chalets that will house specialty eateries and shops.
The couple that has been tapped to run Winterland are Jean-Louis Lacaille and his wife Sarah Abitbol, top ice skaters from France.
Lacaille and Abitbol will lead demonstrations, shows, group parties and even lessons for the more ambitious guests.
Chwastiak said a section of Winterland may be open by December 15 for ice skating.
“The key thing about Winterland is that it is going to be a real ice skating experience, nothing fake. It’s going to be real coolers, real ice and it’s not just for the holidays. It’s going to be a full-time destination,” Chwastiak said.
The mall also recently unveiled a virtual reality Rilix Coaster.
Rilix owner Pierre ZonZon said although the concept is not new, it is the very first one in the United States.
He said the Rilix, a popular attraction in Brazil and in about 17 other countries, offers 27 roller coaster rides to choose from.
“You have the goggles on and you can see the design everywhere all around you. You hear the sounds, you really feel it and sometimes it can be really scary. But it’s fun,” ZonZon said. “People really love it. They have been screaming and every time they do it, they just want to do it again.”
Through the months of November and December for the holiday season, the mall has a full slate of events planned, starting with GRINCH-mas story time at 10 a.m. Nov. 10 followed by Deck the Drones racing that night starting at 7:30 p.m. — an event that will allow drone pilots to take over the air-space in Lake Square Mall.
A Nutcracker story time on Dec. 6 will include a visit by Mount Dora Ballet’s Nutcracker princess and mouse king at 11 a.m., and on Dec. 15, kids will have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of milk and some cookies with Santa starting at 10:30 a.m.
Also on Nov. 24, the mall and many area schools will partner on a project dubbed the Festival of the Trees.
Chwastiak said 30 student teams from various schools and programs will arrive at the mall to decorate one of dozens of trees donated by Cecil Clark Chevrolet and Lowe’s using themed ornaments they will be required to make at school.
There will be a lighting ceremony starting at 7 p.m. and after that, guests will be able to bid on the trees through Dec. 9 for a chance to win and take them home. In turn, all proceeds will go back to the Educational Foundation of Lake County earmarked for Lake County Schools’ art departments.
“We wanted to partner with the community and give back to our schools while adding some festivity and Christmas spirit to the mall,” Chwastiak said.
As for the stores, Chwastiak said many of the new ones are Canadian companies making their debut in the United States here in Leesburg. Mall owner Meir Benzaken has connections in Canada from his time as a businessman there.
They include Yvonne Marie, a women’s clothing store; Emmanuel, a men’s clothing store; Georges Marciano Ranch, featuring jeans and boots by the former Guess designer; Lucky 7, a store catered to younger fashions; and Pajar, a six-generation family-run store that sells high-end shoes, boots, accessories and maple candies.
A virtual reality experience called VRtualize will also be moving into a spot next to Books-A-Million.
Chwastiak said the support and patronage of residents will increase the mall’s chances at attracting other big-name mall stores people are asking about to Lake Square in the future.