Movie theme park anchors project planned near Albertville outlet mall

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Lights, camera, Albertville!

Well, actual movie-making may not be in the cards for Albertville, Minnesota, but a movie theme park is being planned by Sony Pictures and a Minnesota development company, Black Forest LLC.

Known as the Mall of Entertainment, the proposed project also includes an indoor water park and a Marriott hotel on 18 acres of land alongside the Albertville Premium Outlets.

The project's website describes the Sony park as "a back-lot edutainment experience." The Star Tribune says it will feature characters from Sony movies, such as "Smurfs" and "Men in Black."

The developers say their $115 million project will create 2,000 jobs. They hope to break ground this summer and open before the end of next year, Ben Bloch of iP2 Entertainment – one of the partners in Black Forest LLC – told BringMeTheNews.

But city administrator Adam Nafstad tells the Press & News that, while Albertville has been talking with the property owners about the concept for years, no formal application has been submitted. He says the project will likely require an environmental review, as well as approval of site, building, and zoning applications.

Albertville sits in a part of Wright County that is still sprinkled with farmland. But it's on a stretch of Interstate 94 that's traveled by 80,000 vehicles per day, the developers say, and the outlet mall attracts 5 million visitors per year.

The Star Tribune says Los Angeles-based iP2 Entertainment opened its first two family entertainment centers in Indonesia and the Philippines over the past two years. iP2 chief executive Roger Hauben tells the newspaper the Albertville complex will be "a perfect staycation for residents."

Other partners in Black Forest LLC specialize in development, construction, and finance, according to the project's website.

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