Does the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, N.J., which includes sports facilities, represent the future of brick-and-mortar retail shopping in the United States?
The 3-million-square-foot shopping center opened in late October with a series of jaw-dropping recreation elements. They include an indoor National Hockey League-size ice rink and the eight-acre Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. The DreamWorks Waterpark, billed as the largest of its kind in North America and featuring a wave pool and 40 slides, is slated to open today, and a 16-story indoor ski hill dubbed Big SNOW (the largest in the Western Hemisphere, according to The Wall Street Journal) will debut Dec. 5.
And by March 2020, many of the anticipated 350-plus retail destinations and 100-plus dining establishments are expected to have opened their doors.
American Dream could wind up costing close to an estimated $6 billion, making it the most expensive mall ever built in the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports that it also is the first in this country to devote more space to entertainment than traditional retail. (The split is about 55 percent/45 percent.)
The mall is located next to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and won’t completely be finished until 2021. The American Dream concept dates back to the late 1990s, although the project didn’t break ground until 2004 and was suspended for a year in 2009 during the recession.
According to the Associated Press, American Dream officials expect to attract between 45 million and 50 million visitors during its first 12 months.
“You can make it your backyard playground if you live in Manhattan or even if you’re in New Jersey,” Ken Downing, chief creative officer for Canada-based Triple Five Group, the mall’s developer, told the AP “It’s a staycation. So, it’s a little bit of competing with mindset and emotion, far more than a property or even Disneyland.”
“Everybody talks about the future of retail and the future of entertainment, and how you merge the two,” Don Ghermezian, chief executive officer of American Dream and president of Triple Five, said at a news conference on Oct. 25, the day the facility opened. “But there really isn’t a center on the planet that has done it to the degree that we’ve done in here.”
As the AP reported, Olivia Marino-Myers of Nutley, N.J., brought her 4-year-old daughter to American Dream on Opening Day to visit The Rink. “I do a lot of online shopping. I don’t go to the mall so much,” she said. “I think this might drive me back.”