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Old Posted Jul 29, 2017, 12:12 AM
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The mall's future rises in the Meadowlands: It's about entertainment

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With a quarter of malls in the United States predicted to close within five years, Canadian developer Triple Five Group is building a giant anti-mall in North Jersey, just outside Manhattan.

The much-delayed $5 billion complex, modestly called American Dream, will resemble something straight out of a Walt Disney movie: a jumbo-sized hybrid between a shopping center and amusement park that some see as a model for what top malls are becoming.

“The future of malls is that they will have to offer shopping experiences you can’t get anywhere else in the form of food and beverage, unique entertainment opportunities, and exclusive stores,” said JLL’s James Cook, director of retail research for the Americas. “You certainly need something” unique.

American Dream meets all the criteria, even if it’s on its third builder and has endured multiple setbacks over more than a decade.

“It will have less retail space than [the nation’s largest] Mall of America and 60 percent more in entertainment offerings,” said Debbie Patire, Triple Five’s senior vice president of marketing. “But it really isn’t about size these days. It is about the customer experience and having the right mix of components, flagship and new-to-market retail, combined with best-in-class entertainment, attractions, and restaurants.”

Phase 1 of American Dream was expected to open next summer. Now set for March 2019, it is rising beside MetLife Stadium, where the National Football League’s Giants and Jets play. It will encompass three million square feet, with half devoted to 13 attractions, including a DreamWorks Waterpark featuring elements of “Shrek’s Soggy Swamp,” a Nickelodeon Universe theme park, and a 16-story Big Snow America Indoor Ski Hill.

Should that bore you, there also will be a 1,350-seat live-performance Cirque Du Soleil theater, a Sea Life Aquarium, a Legoland Discovery Center, an 18-hole miniature golf course, an indoor NHL-sized ice rink, an observation wheel resembling the giant London Eye Ferris wheel, and dine-in cinemas with Cinemex X4D, which provides rain, snow, and scents linked to on-screen action.

But wait – for shoppers, there’s Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes, Microsoft, Lululemon, Old Navy, and Victoria’s Secret as well as fast fashion retailers H&M, Zara, and Primark, among 450 stores, specialty shops, and restaurants. Children’s activity retailer KidZania committed to take 80,000 square feet.

“It should become the preeminent tourist attraction, not just in New York, but in all of North America,” gushed Don Ghermezian, whose family controls Triple Five.
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