Even with the mall under pressure due to the rise of online shopping, the American Dream’s first phase will come to life on Friday (Oct. 25) with a ceremony to celebrate the opening of its theme park if there are no last-minute hitches. The months to come will see the christening of the ski slopes, the largest indoor water park in North America, and then hundreds of restaurants as well as shops, the Financial Times reported.
Multiple attractions will make the New Jersey mall a destination. Those include a 1.5 million gallon water park, a beach kept at 87 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, a Sea Life aquarium, a regulation National Hockey League skating rink and an aviary featuring local birds, among other features. The American Dream Meadowlands mall project, first known as Xanadu, was initiated in 2003, although a lot has changed since then — including the rise in eCommerce.
Since that time, New Jersey has experienced five governors. The pastel tiles that caused one of them to call out the aesthetics of the building were replaced. Mills Corp., the original developer, dropped out as did Colony Capital, its successor. Triple Five Group then agreed to take over the project in 2011.
And in that time period, online shopping has increased. As it stands, the shopping mall is under pressure due to the rise of eCommerce, which has impacted brick-and-mortar stores. According to FT, vacancies in U.S. shopping malls reached a high of eight years in Q3 per Reis with vacancies at their worst level as of the financial crisis. And, with consumers shopping through eCommerce and department stores buckle, many malls are contending with a glut of space. “It would not appear to be the best of times to open a 3m-square-foot jumbo mall,” the report said. But Triple Five Group is clearly banking on the attractions to make the mall a destination.
In related news, northern New Jersey’s malls are aiming to find ways to differentiate themselves as American Dream arrives after serving as destinations for Big Apple shoppers for at least 50 years. Poonam Goyal, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said per a past report, “There are shopping centers that are underperforming, and I think those are the ones that need to worry.”