American Dream, the 3 million-square-foot entertainment and shopping complex in East Rutherford, N.J., has revealed an opening date. The long-awaited project will open its doors to the public on Oct 25. Families with children, or those who simply want to indulge their inner child, will find plenty to do.
As for shopping, American Dream said, “Stores will be opening and over the coming weeks we’ll provide further insights into the property, its attractions and tenants, and the exciting plans and events surrounding the opening and beyond. We’ll be coordinating with our tenants regarding opening announcements.”
Developer Triple Five Group on Wednesday said amusement-oriented tenants, including Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and DreamWorks Water Park, which together occupy 16 acres; Big Snow Ski and Snowboard Park, the first indoor snow sports center in North America; The Ice Rink, an NHL-size skating and hockey facility, and 18-hole Angry Birds Miniature Golf will be unveiled “along with unparalleled experiential destination shopping.”
The $5 billion project touted The Collections at American Dream, described as “the ultimate luxury experience” and anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York with a Freds restaurant, two-level Hermès unit, Tiffany & Co., Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler, and Watches of Switzerland rounding out the list of high-end tenants.
Ken Downing, chief creative officer for Triple Five Group, American Dream’s parent, said, “American Dream brings its guests an unrivaled destination for style and fun. Its unique mix of entertainment and retail will welcome and entertain guests, embracing everyone in a new retail and entertainment revolution where everything is possible.”
Entertainment is a key element of American Dream, with 55 percent of the project’s gross leasable space occupied by non-retail tenants. The category in recent years has become more important to shopping centers, as consumers, especially the Gen Z cohort, display more enthusiasm for active pursuits than simply shopping.
American Dream clearly subscribes to the theory, judging by the disproportionate amount of square footage it’s allocated to theme parks and other amusements. The project is also counting on its larger-than-life attractions from popular entertainment brands to entice tourists and residents to cross the river from New York to American Dream’s Meadowlands location in New Jersey.
Don Ghermezian, president of American Dream, has waxed confident about the center’s prospects, given the area’s access to more than 20 million residents and 65 million annual tourists.
“We anticipate luxury retail will do sales north of $2,000 per square foot, and the center itself, well in excess of $1,500 per square foot,” Ghermezian said. “We’ve positioned American Dream to become the highest-grossing center in North America, given its proximity to New York City. The center was built to drive traffic and generate sales.”
The project’s long gestation period began in 2002 when the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority issued a request for proposals, which was answered by the Mills Corp. The project has had a long and tortured journey to completion that involved a succession of banks, architects, designers, tenants and developers, with pitches from Westfield Group, Forest City Ratner, Hartz Mountain and Vornado’s Steve Roth.
Canadian conglomerate Triple Five, which owns and operates the two largest shopping centers in North America, West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., has been able to accomplish more than any of the previous developers. However, it remains to be seen whether American Dream appeals to deep-pocketed tourists, who’ll be essential in keeping the retailers in the black.
American Dream is counting on former Neiman Marcus senior vice president and fashion director Downing, who joined Triple Five Group as its first chief creative officer in May to help it strike the right tone. Downing’s inspirations include a 60-foot fountain that converts into a runway in the Collections area. He also plans to infuse American Dream with events such as the season’s first fashion show staged at Big Snow.