May 15, 2018
American Dream Miami Would Be Biggest Mall in U.S.
As South Florida awaits word on its chances to land Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, another massive development moves closer to reality.
Triple Five Worldwide, the company that built the Mall of America in Minnesota, is working on an even bigger retail and entertainment destination at Interstate 75 and Florida’s Turnpike in northwest Miami-Dade County.
Topping 5 million square feet at full build-out, American Dream Miami would be much more than just the nation’s largest mall. It would rival an amusement park with its own ferris wheel, an aquarium, submarine ride and an indoor ski park, water park and skating rink, to name a few of the planned entertainment options that would greet visitors.
“When was the last time you went to the mall and could go on a submarine ride?” asked Robert Granda, director of retail investment sales for the Franklin Street brokerage. “An indoor ski slope in Florida? It’s crazy.”
Abutting the $4 billion project to the south is a separate development by the Graham Cos. that would include a 3 million-square-foot business park, 1 million square feet of retail and 2,000 residential units. The two projects will total 511 acres of new development.
Miami-Dade County officials have signed off on both developments. The Miami-Dade County Commission is preparing to issue final approvals May 17.
An indoor water park (above) and indoor ski slope (below) are two of the many entertainment options planned for American Dream Miami, which also will feature an aquarium, a submarine ride, ferris wheel and skating rink. ( Credit: Triple Five Worldwide )
Amazon and online shopping have redefined the industry, pushing traditional brick-and-mortar retailers out of business and leaving others fighting for survival. Traditional malls also are struggling, with demand for mall and shopping center space dropping to its lowest level in six years.
But Triple Five insists American Dream Miami, a few miles west of Hard Rock Stadium, would be a 5-Star attraction that provides tens of millions of visitors a year with an experience – exactly what new retail developments must do to reach today’s consumers, experts said.
Considering its size and potential, American Dream Miami might be one of the most substantial and influential developments in South Florida’s history, Granda said.
“No one wants to go spend a day at the mall anymore,” he said. “People want to go experience an environment. This will have all the components [that] a family will look for in a vacation, but it’s right in their back yard.”
Tony Cho, founder of the Metro 1 real estate brokerage, added that establishing American Dream Miami as an entertainment destination increases its chances of success – but even then, there are no guarantees.
“If they pull this off successfully, it will have a dramatic impact on the region,” Cho said of project developer Triple Five. “But entertainment is a funny thing. You could build something nobody likes.”
Bob Gorlow, a partner in Triple Five, said American Dream Miami is modeled after a similar development in New Jersey, American Dream Meadowlands, that’s expected to open next year.
But the first phase of the South Florida project wouldn’t be ready until Black Friday 2023, and it would take four more years to build the entire development, Gorlow noted.
Triple Five, with executive offices in Canada and Las Vegas, expects American Dream Miami to bring 25,000 construction jobs and 25,000 permanent jobs to the region.
Critics, including nearby residents and a group of competing South Florida mall owners, have expressed concerns about traffic and quality of life.
But Nathan Kogan, Miami-Dade’s assistant director of development services, said the developer is building new roads and improving existing ones to help mitigate the impact of the project.
In addition, the county is requiring Triple Five to build a transit hub for buses.
“In my opinion, it’s a significant list of improvements that will need to be done,” Kogan said.
Gorlow said he isn’t surprised that other malls are opposed to American Dream Miami.
“It’s not uncommon for them to resist a new entry into the market,” he said. “We live in the U.S. Competition is a part of the environment.”