The 3.1-million-square-foot American Dream Mall under-construction in East Rutherford, N.J., pushed back its opening date to sometime this “summer,” the latest in a long history of missed deadlines for the $5 billion project, developers Triple Five announced today.
Triple Five was originally scheduled to open the project in April but said it will now bow in “late 2019,” NJ.com first reported. A spokeswoman for the developer, founded by Jacob Ghermezian in Canada and whose grandson Don Ghermezian is the CEO, did not provide reasons for the delay or a firmer opening date.
The developer announced the delayed opening today in a release about hiring the former fashion director at Neiman Marcus, Ken Downing, as its chief creative officer, “to drive, define, and distinctly shape American Dream and Triple Five projects.”
“There are forces of nature and then there is Don Ghermezian of Triple Five,” Downing said in a statement. “No dream is too big, no detail too small. These are the ideals that are the cornerstones of my career.”
Triple Five’s official announcement comes after Gov. Phil Murphy said at an unrelated press conference earlier this month that the opening date for the mega-mall—which will have 1.5 million square feet of retail, a DreamWorks-branded indoor waterpark, an indoor amusement park and an indoor ski lift—“slipped closer to June,” according to NJ.com.
American Dream, formerly known as Xanadu, was first pitched 16 years ago and has plenty of skeptics in the state as it has been through numerous missed openings, three developers, five governors and a major retail contraction.
“We’ve been told this story a gazillion times,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who criticized the project last year and the up to $390 million in tax breaks offered to the developer by the state on Twitter, previously told Commercial Observer. “I gloss over these dates when they’re projected to open.”
While another missed deadline might be more ammunition for non-believers of American Dream, Newmark Knight Frank’s mall guru Thomas Dobrowski, who’s not involved in the project, said it’s par for the course with malls of this size.
“Pushing back opening dates is not uncommon for these types of project,” said Dobrowski, who handles regional investment mall sales at NKF. “Usually it’s getting all the pieces of the puzzle together so that you have a very solid opening where the property is 100 percent complete. You only get one chance to have a grand opening.”
Triple Five, the team behind the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, took over the project in 2011, renamed it the American Dream Mall and restarted construction in 2014.