Long-delayed N.J. mega-mall to open in spring 2019
- Canadian developer Triple Five Worldwide announced that American Dream Meadowlands, a 3-million-square-foot entertainment complex underway in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will open in spring 2019, NorthJersey.com reported.
- Formerly known as Meadowlands Xanadu, the project was proposed in 2003, but by 2012, it had been roiled by legal and financial setbacks, and was still unfinished despite two developers having already sunk a combined $1.9 billion in it, according to The Real Deal. Triple Five took over the site in 2013 and relaunched it as American Dream, a mall/amusement-park hybrid similar to the developer’s Mall of America in Minneapolis. According to NorthJersey.com, construction has been gaining momentum since Triple Five completed a $1.1 billion tax-exempt bond sale and $1.6 billion private construction loan last summer.
- American Dream will offer a combined 16 acres of indoor parks, including a water park, amusement park and ski slope. Triple Five said 55% of the complex will be devoted to entertainment space, to include an aquarium, an ice rink and a Cirque Du Soleil theater, and the remaining 45% will be filled by retailers that offer unique “retailtainment.” Tony Armlin, vice president for development construction, reportedly told NorthJersey.com, “We are more like Disney than we are anything like a retail shopping center.”
Retail store closings are hitting record highs as the industry faces massive disruption from Amazon and other e-commerce sites. While the convenience of online shopping is tough to beat, developers are coming up with new design concepts to merge retail with entertainment. American Dream includes several courtyards designed to host retailer programming and generate social media buzz from visitors, such as a court with $1.5 million worth of flowers.
The New Jersey project was halted in December 2016 until developers secured the $1.6 billion private loan, but Triple Five said construction is now 56% complete and that it will soon ramp up to $3 million in expenditures per day.
The complex has to abide by Bergen County’s religion-oriented "blue laws," which restrict shopping on Sundays, but its entertainment focus means most of the mall can stay open and continue to bring in money. Triple Five has received $390 million in tax breaks, according to NorthJersey.com, and state officials say that revenue from the $1.1 bond sale will more than make up for this over 20 years.
Triple Five is also developing a $3 billion American Dream Miami complex with the ambitious goal of drawing twice the number of tourists that visit Walt Disney World in Orlando. The project won preliminary approval from Miami-Dade County in January, but area retailers are reportedly jockeying to bar the rival project from any public subsidies or incentives.
- NorthJersey.com Can it be true? American Dream says it will open in spring 2019
Follow Kathleen Brown on Twitter