- Miami-Dade County has given its initial approval for a massive $3 billion "retail theme park" to be built near the Florida Turnpike, according to the Miami Herald
- Developers expect the American Dream Miami complex, which includes an ancillary project across the street, to draw twice the number of tourists that visit Walt Disney World in Orlando and said it will feature more than 6 million square feet of commercial space, 2,000 hotel rooms, 3.5 million square feet of retail and 1.5 million square feet of entertainment venues and spaces.
- The approval from the commissioners moves the project to a state review, which is predicted to take approximately four months.
The project would be the largest mall and amusement park in the U.S., besting the current holder of that title, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. Opponents of the project said it would create even more traffic congestion and put more stress on the county's fire and police services. Advocates, however, pointed to the projected 32,000 construction jobs, 14,500 permanent jobs and an estimated $230 million in extra annual county revenue.
An amusement component is one of the aspects of new mall projects that can still draw shoppers, who have largely turned to the internet for their retail needs. Internet sales have jumped about 15% annually for the last six years and are expected to hit $523 billion by 2020, according to Forrester. As a result, contractors specializing in the retail sector have reported a dip in new construction but a rise in renovation projects.
On a smaller scale than the American Dream project, Atlanta developers are also utilizing the amusement angle for a retail and office complex. The conversion of a former Sears building in Atlanta into the mixed-use Ponce City Market will feature an old-fashioned rooftop amusement park with games, food and novelty vendors and an opportunity for visitors to climb to the top of the Ponce City sign.