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Home / Business / Timeline for New Jersey's American Dream megamall and how it was built

Timeline for New Jersey's American Dream megamall and how it was built

This is a reproduction of the American Dream Project in New Jersey, which is scheduled to open to the public on October 25, starting with the Nickelodic theme park.

Source: Triple Five Group

After more than 17 years since the first phase of America's newest megamall finally opened to the public Friday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

What makes the $ 5 billion opening of American dreams so highly awaited is the labyrinthine story. It was first seen in 1

996 and has had several owners. Had you driven past it on the New Jersey Turnpike nearly a decade ago, you may remember a multicolored eye that the then governor called one of the ugliest buildings in the state and maybe even the land instead of a massive shopping entertainment complex. [19659002ForditidslinjenerblitttrukketutharAmericanDreambokstaveligtaltblittformetettersomdetaljhandelenerblittsnuddpåhodetDabakkenblebrutti2004underprosjektetsopprinneligeutviklerevarAmazonsoppstigningbarebegyntCircuitCitySportsAuthorityBlockbusterRadioShackogToysRUsvarfremdelesivirksomhetForhandleregrepfasteiendomderdekunnefinnedemsultenpåååpnesåmangebutikkersommulig

Fast forward to 2019, when the American Dream is opened, store closures pile up, shopping revolves around online and many of the dealers who have refuge There has not been nimble enough to navigate the turbulent landscape that has been forced to file for bankruptcy.

Many view the project as a case study, and the main question is whether the entertainment experience will be able to excite consumers enough to bring them back to the mall for shopping and more.

American Drom's first phase, a Nickelodeon theme park and an NHL regulation skating rink, opens Friday. The amusement park will have more than 35 rides and attractions, including three record-breaking substrates: one for the steepest cliff, with a precipitation of 122 meters; one for the highest and longest freefall roller coaster; and one for the tallest indoor spinning-drop tower.

Then later this year, property developer Triple Five Group expects to open a DreamWorks indoor water park, North America's largest, along with an indoor snow park. The department stores and a handful of other entertainment venues won't open their doors until 2020, according to Triple Five. However, because of Bergen's blue laws, this means that all shops must remain dark on Sundays.

Here's a look at what the American dream was like.

A ramp that will house an indoor ski trail stands at the Meadowlands Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Thursday, February 10, 2011.

Emile Wamsteker | Bloomberg | Getty Images


Back in 1996, a business developer known as The Mills Corp. proposed a retail and entertainment mall that spans approximately 2.1 million square feet in the Meadowlands area of ​​New Jersey. The group was then known for developing large shopping malls, often with abstract architecture, massive cinemas and food courts.

However, Mills & # 39; s proposal was to build over an area of ​​wetlands in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Angry protests arose over the potential environmental impact because such a massive complex would destroy what many considered to be precious habitat. This particular project never came to fruition. A new plot, not far from Carlstadt, came into the picture a few years later for a similar idea.


The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, an independent arm created by the state in the 1970s to oversee the Meadowlands Sports Complex, sought out developers in 2002 about what to do with an already existing plot of land developed in East Rutherford, near the former Continental Airlines Arena.


The Mills and Mack- Cali Realty came out victorious. Mills revised his original plan for the nearby swamp land. Mack-Cali was brought in to help with the office tower and the hotel component of the project, and had a history of working in the real estate areas. The two had said they planned to build four 14-story, 440,000-square-foot office A buildings, along with a 520-room hotel with conference facilities.

The Triple Five Group, the property owner today, did not make the top three finalists selected by the state exhibit authority. The partners chose the name Xanadu, which was sourced from The Mills & # 39; Madrid Xanadu Mall in Spain. (Xanadu was also the name of the fictional estate of Charles Foster Kane in the movie "Citizen Kane." During the years of starts and stops and millions of dollars in sales of taxpayers, the name was used to mock the project.) [19659002Partnernesaatdevillebetaleetgebyrpå160millionerdollarforutviklingsrettighetervedbyggestartnåralletillatelseroggodkjenningerbleoppnåddDeforventetatprosjektetskulleomfattelandetsførsteinnendørsalpineskianleggetinnendørsmini-FormulaOne-spillestedenmindre-ligabaseballstadionenekstremsportparkenkinoogliveunderholdningsarenaifølgeengammelpressemeldingPåmangemåteretterlignetdisseplaneneblåkopienforMallofAmericasombrakteattraksjonersomberg-ogdalbanerminigolfogetakvariumtiletkjøpesenter-noeUSAikkehaddesettfør


the ground was broken on the huge plot in September 2004, with the Mills and Mack-Cali and said they charged into an opening date in 2007. the project was expected to cost around $ 2 billion. That price tag would later creep up, and the opening pushed back.

Giants Stadium is in the background of workers pouring concrete during construction of the Meadowlands Xanadu Entertainment Complex on Thursday, March 16, 2006 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Emile Wamsteker | Bloomberg | Getty Images


The real estate investment firm Colony Capital announced in 2006 that it would take over Xanadu from The Mills and Mack-Cali. Mills had been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for suspected accounting irregularities and would not be able to continue to fund the project. The largest mall owner in the United States, Simon Property Group, and the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management would continue to buy The Mills for $ 1.64 billion in 2007.

When in November 2006, Colony Capital announced that they had secured additional funding to enable For to resume construction, it said it was targeting completion by the end of 2008. It also said it had signed leases with six anchor tenants at that time: outdoor lifestyle retailer Cabela's, an AEG Live concert house, exclusive to Muvico cinema chain a bowling alley and martini bar concept by Strike MX, plus Forever 21 and The Children's Place stores.


Ground was broken in 2007 for the new MetLife Stadium for the New York Jets and the Giants next door and was expected to cost $ 1.3 billion. This will eventually lead to more problems for Xanadu.


On top of everything else, Colony Capital announced in 2008 that Xanadu will include an observation wheel similar to the London Eye. Residents complained about another sight, on top of Xanadus's already bright exterior. In a story with The New York Times from 2008, The Mills boss Laurence Siegel said people who criticized Xanadu's aesthetic were trusted to "judge the Sistine Chapel after Michelangelo took on the first coat of paint." Siegel had stuck to helping Colony Capital after the acquisition of The Mills. He told the Times in April 2008 that 60% of Xanadu was leased at this time.

However, the opening of Xanadu was pushed back from November 2008 to summer 2009, and construction was still not completed.


The financial crisis hit Xanadu and the money dried out. One of the project's lenders to the construction industry, Xanadu Mezz Holdings, was a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. The Lehman affiliate defaulted on its loan obligations, leaving Xanadu approximately $ 22.9 million, The New York Times reported.

At one point, The Wall Street Journal reported, there were talks between Colony Capital and Stephen Ross, CEO of Real Estate Related Companies, to borrow more money to complete the development. But they never had any fruit.

Meanwhile, retail began to see seismic shifts in the midst of the Great Recession. The plans to add new stores as quickly as possible suddenly seemed not so smart. KB Toys, Whitehall Jewelers, Sharper Image, Circuit City, Linens & # 39; n Things, and department store chain Mervyn's eventually fell victim to bankruptcy.

July 2010 file photography

Mel Evans | AP


In February 2011, part of Xanadu sank due to heavy snow on the roof, leaving an arch in the unfinished ski slope.

The Triple Five Group came into the picture that year. The group announced that it would take over the project, which remained untouched and unfinished this year after the loans dried up. It gave the mega template a new name: The American Dream.

Ghermezians, the family behind the Triple Five Group, said in 2011 that they planned to invest $ 1 billion to expand the development, which had already raised a tab of around $ 1.9 billion. They said they would grow it to 3 million square feet, through addition as an indoor water park. And they started targeting a new opening date ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl that was meant to be held next door.

Although the company may not be a household name, it had operated Mall of America, the nation's largest shopping mall, since it opened in 1992.

In a presentation with the then Gov. Chris Christie, Ghermezians said in May 2011 that they expected about 50% of American Dream's visitors to be local. Christie said he expected the project to create 35,000 jobs and that New Jersey would help fund the project with $ 200 million in sales tax incentives.

The Triple Five Group promised to do what Christie called in March "by far the ugliest fucking. New Jersey building, and maybe America."

New Jersey statesman Chris Christie, on the right, looks at a rendition of how the American Dream at Meadowland's Retail and Entertainment Complex will appear at Meadowlands, Tuesday, May 3, 2011, in East Rutherford, NJ

Julio Cortez | AP


In July 2012, DreamWorks Animation announced plans to bring a theme park to American Dream, which sparked renewed excitement about the development. Construction picked up again, and entertainment-based tenants signed agreements to move in.

But also that year, the New York Giants and Jets sued for a lawsuit to prevent the American Dream from being completed, claiming it would damage games held at MetLife Stadium. They said it would lead to transportation and parking of nightmares. The Triple Five Group later signed, but the two eventually reached an agreement to drop the suits in 2014.

There were still no concrete plans in 2012 to handle the growing traffic that American Dream was expected to generate.


After four years, construction started again at American Dream, with the Triple Five Group now at the helm. The year also marked the 10th anniversary since the plans for the original Xanadu were approved. But the Triple Five Group said the complex would not be complete ahead of the 2014 Super Bowl, as we had hoped. The developers said it would take more time to complete the DreamWorks theme park.


Hudson's Bay Company merchandise operator in September 2015 announced that three of the banners – Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Saks Off 5th – would join American Dream, which at that time aimed at an opening date for late summer 2017. Luxury equipment maker Hermes became the second high-end brand to be signed in 2015, and leading retail analysts thought others would follow.

The Triple Five Group in 2015 began covering the multicolored facade of American Dream with white panels.


Construction work stopped short in 2016.

In September 2016, Triple Five Group said it would bring a Nickelodeon theme park to American Dream, based on the success of Nickelodeon at the Mall of America.

In December 2016, the Triple Five Group told The New York Times that it had a target date for fall 2018. Developers also said American Dream was about 70% leased at this time, and they spent about $ 1 million daily on Construction.


After already spending $ 700 million on American Dream, the Triple Five Group closed for $ 1.67 billion in construction loans. The municipal bonds, issued in two different offers, will total $ 1.1 billion, The New York Times reported in May 2017.

Construction picked up again.

American Dream Meadowlands, a retail and entertainment complex under construction in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, is seen October 13, 2018 from a flight over East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Gary Hershorn | Getty Images


Reports citing developers said construction costs had risen to around $ 3 million daily. The Triple Five Group promised in May 2018 that the first phase of American Dream would open in spring 2019. Leasing was said to be about 80% complete.

Meanwhile, in 2018, Miami-Dade County in Florida approved the development of Triple Five Group's next US Dream Trade theme park in Miami, a project that is expected to cost around $ 4 billion and spans a total of 6.2 million square feet. This complex, which does not have a fixed completion date yet, will overtake Mall of America to become the largest mall in North America when – and if – it opens its doors.

The American Dream Complex is located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Thursday, August 29, 2019.

Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images


The Triple Five Group in May pushed the opening of phase one on American Dream this fall. An exact date of October 25 was not announced until July.

Retailers at American Dream were now scheduled to include Barneys New York, Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, Moncler, Tiffany, Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and Primark, according to the website.

The developers said that their idea of ​​what American Dream would be, once completed, had evolved over time, as the retail industry had clearly undergone its fair share of changes since before the Great Recession.

"When we originally took the project seven to eight years ago, there could have been 200 dealers out there who I thought would be tenants in the center. Many of them went bankrupt," said Chief Executive Officer, Triple Five, Don Ghermezian in a recent interview with CNBC. "In a very advantageous way, it changed our focus … on bringing people to the center and getting them off their phones. America has 1,000 malls they don't need."

This April 25, 2019 file photo shows the exterior of the construction site of the American Dream Center in East Rutherford, NJ

Julio Cortez | AP

The Triple Five Group expects 40 million visitors annually, just as it looks at Mall of America.

However, getting there from New York can be a little more complicated for some people. (Unless you have a private helicopter – because blueprint plans to outline three helipads on American Dream.)

New Jersey Transit adds a new route, called the 355 express bus, which will run daily, every half hour, from the Harbor Bus Terminal to American dream. Ferry traffic starts Friday from the West Side of Manhattan to New Jersey, which requires a short bus ride to get to Megamall. Lyft has also said it will have designated pick-up and drop-off locations at American Dream.

American Dream has all told a price tag of about $ 5 billion.

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