Tom Woodard
Director, GRS Group
(561) 325-9857

There hasn’t been a whole lot of good news about malls as of late. Legitimate forecasts or not, some say that hundreds of malls could close in coming years, due to the problems that department stores face.

Well, one developer is completely ignoring those warnings. However, this does not sound like the typical mall one might find in most cities.

Canada-based Triple Five Group is the developer, and it rarely goes small. In the early 1980s, it developed what is the largest mall in North America, the West Edmonton [Alberta] Mall, which totals 5.3 million square feet. Triple Five also developed the Mall of America, outside of Minneapolis, which is the largest in the United States, at 4.2 million square feet. Now it is building American Dream Meadowlands, in New Jersey, reviving the failed Meadowlands Xanadu project that was originally conceived by The Mills Corp. decades ago.

Next, Triple Five’s sights are set on Florida, where it plans to build what would be the largest mall on the continent, American Dream Miami, north of the city in northern Miami-Dade county, topping out at 6.2 million square feet at a reported cost of $4 billion.

Like the company’s other projects, this will not be the run-of-the-mill mall. Instead, the facility will be a retail-entertainment center on steroids. Not only will it feature hundreds of stores and eateries, American Dream Miami is also slated to house a water park, theme park, an ice-climbing wall, an indoor ski slope, outdoor fishing, theaters and a 2,000-bed hotel. This is obviously no small undertaking.

Is there a market for this monolith?

That remains to be seen. Given the popularity of experiential retail nowadays and more malls adapting to more than just a place to buy clothing and go to a food court, it could work, especially with the Miami area’s dynamic population and major tourism industry.

After all, Mall of America reportedly attracts 40 million visitors a year, according to Triple Five, and one third comes from further than 150 miles away.

Still, it’s a bit of a gamble with that price tag. The tenant mix and synergy will be the keys to its success. But Triple Five could pick worse places to land its megastructure. A recent Cushman & Wakefield report shows that the population in Southern Florida is not decreasing any time soon, so there will be a built-in consumer base to support American Dream Miami.

Tenant-leasing execution and a continued strong economy will likely dictate its fate.