By Kristen Bahler
October 28, 2019

“American Dream,” a $5.7 billion ode to capitalism that’s every bit as nebulous as the idiom it’s named after, welcomed its first visitors on Friday.

Stretching nearly 90 acres across East Rutherford, New Jersey, the shopping center houses the largest indoor amusement park in the U.S., the largest indoor water park, a skating rink, an aquarium, a “Legoland Discovery Center,” and a 16-story indoor ski hill. Among other things.

It’s the most expensive U.S. mall ever built, brought to you by the developer behind Mall of America, a Canadian company called Triple Five Group.

The company took over the project after multiple developers tried to turn the site of a torn-down sports complex into a mega-mall over the last 16 years — all failing to get beyond the construction phase.

Triple Five hopes to draw 40 million visitors to the site a year — twice as many people that went to Disneyland last year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Parts of American Dream are still being built, with attractions set to open through 2021. But in a few months, the shopping center will open its mall portion, featuring more than 350 luxury brands (Hermes, Tiffany & Co., Mulberry) “fast fashion” stores (Uniqlo, Forever21, H&M), and other retail staples (a Sephora AND an Ulta).

All told, the space is expected to strike a balance of 45% retail and 55% entertainment, and reach up to $6 billion “after amenities such as a planned hotel and convention center are added,” according to the WSJ. Eventually, it will also open an 800-person dining center in partnership with Coca-Cola, with more than a dozen full-service restaurants, a food hall, and a kosher food court.

As the retail industry continues to trumpet the death of brick and mortar shopping, the development is something of an experiment in immersive shopping “experiences,” where a trip to the mall is less of an errand and more of an all-day outing.

“We want people to come for the entertainment and want to stay to shop,” Triple Five president Don Ghermezian told the WSJ. “The only way to get to the water park is to walk through 300,000 square feet of retail.”

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