July 12, 2017
Nearly 15 years in the making, North Jersey's ambitious Megamall project is back on track after the developers of the American Dream Meadowlands secured approximately $3 billion in new financing.
First conceived in 2002 as Xanadu Meadowlands, the sprawling, 3 million-square-foot project passed through the hands of two developers as financing issues, weather-related construction delays and legal challenges derailed its progress for a decade.
In July 2013, the site at the Meadowlands Sports Complex was taken over by Triple Five, the same group behind the world-renowned Mall of America in Minnesota and Canada's West Edmonton Mall.
Reimagined as a monumental shopping, recreation, dining and entertainment hub, construction was again hamstrung financing remained tentative for the roughly $5 billion investment. A goal to complete the mall by summer 2018 became unrealistic.
Signs of life picked up in May when the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA), joined by a public finance authority based in Wisconsin, backed Triple Five's $1.1 billion tax-exempt bond sale. The plan is also bolstered by state and local tax incentives, according to NJ Spotlight.
After the completion of the bond sale, Triple Five landed an additional $1.67 billion in private financing from J.P. Morgan, bringing its available investment to about $3 billion. Most importantly, construction is returning to the 90-acre site just off the New Jersey Turnpike.
Triple Five said last year it anticipates American Dream's construction alone will bring about 23,000 jobs and $50 million in tax revenue, as well as a range of economic benefits to the community in East Rutherford. Over the next two decades, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority projects American Dream will generate a net economic benefit of $730 million for the state.
Plans for the project go far beyond the mall, which already includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Hermès among its 400 anticipated retail and restaurant tenants. In addition to the shopping experience, Triple Five envisions a global destination helmed by the following attractions:
• DreamWorks Water Park
• 16-story Big Snow and Indoor Ski & Snow Park
• 285-foot-tall Ferris wheel
• Sea Life Aquarium & Lego Discovery Center
• NHL-size ice rink
• 18-hole miniature golf course
• The Collections fashion area and Dining Terrace
• Indoor Nickelodeon Universe theme park
With the current financing in place, Triple Five now projects American Dream Meadowlands to be completed by March 2019.
“We are finally at the point where we don't have to say, 'When will it happen?’” NJSEA President and CEO Wayne Hasenbalg told NJ Spotlight. “We can say, 'American Dream is happening.’”