American Dream Is About to Turn the “Mall” Into Something Truly Spectacular

by Aria Darcella

American Dream, a dazzling retail concept opening in 2019 in New Jersey’s Bergen County is the next-gen mall. Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five Worldwide, the development firm helming the project, explains why we’ll be crossing the Hudson to shop — and so much more.

Don Ghermizian

What excites you about American Dream finally opening this year?
Triple Five is creating something completely new and dynamic that’s never been done before, and we’re doing it in one of the world’s most incredible markets. American Dream will redefine the future of retail and entertainment while reshaping the customer experience. We have curated and thoughtfully designed a blend of new-to-market retail, entertainment, and culinary experiences sure to please both local customers and tourists alike.

How did you get involved in this project?
As the owners and operators of the two largest shopping and entertainment centers in North America, Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, we’re experts in our business. I learned firsthand at West Edmonton Mall, where I grew up, and I became involved in the family business at a young age.

Champagne Bar in the Collections at American Dream

What’s the secret sauce for elevating the retail model?
What my father knew when he opened West Edmonton Mall in the ’80s is that shopping is an activity best complemented with entertainment. This idea culminates in American Dream with 400-plus retailers. Our world-class entertainment and dining offerings make up 55 percent of the property. Along with impeccable service and convenience, this creates an atmosphere for shopping to really shine.

Why did you choose the tri-state area for this venture?
American Dream is ideally situated in the best market in the world. Having a local customer base of more than 20 million people, located five miles from NYC — with a built-in tourist base of over 65 million people — American Dream will offer a place where brands of the future can thrive. Our objective is for our surrounding neighborhood to reap the rewards, and for American Dream to act as a social gathering hub the local community will take pride in.

Tell us about the myriad activities available, from skiing to water slides!
American Dream will have over 15 major attractions, including North America’s largest fully-enclosed indoor DreamWorks Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park; a 16-story Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snow Park; Kidzania; a live Performing Arts Theater; 285-foot-tall Observation Wheel; luxury movie theaters by CMX; a Sea Life Aquarium; Lego Discovery Center; an NHL-size Ice Rink; and two 18-hole miniature golf attractions.

How are you evolving the classic mall food court?
We will treat culinary as an attraction. The Dining Room will feature 15 full-service restaurants; Vice Media’s first-ever MUNCHIES Food Hall; and a Kosher food court.

How did the Vice MUNCHIES Food Hall happen?
When we thought about the food hall experience and how to differentiate ourselves from other developers, MUNCHIES immediately came to mind. Instead of partnering with a celebrity chef, which is totally expected, we crossed three rivers and the island of Manhattan to find the ideal partner to collaborate on this first-of-its-kind food hall. The MUNCHIES Food Hall will curate tenant selection and global culinary experiences, while simultaneously creating events, activations, and content not found anywhere else.

What exactly are The Collections at American Dream?
The Collections is a curated, culturally relevant luxury retail and lifestyle destination. As a separate and distinct shopping environment, The Collections will feature brands from around the globe, impeccable design, premier services and amenities, plus innovative experiential components. Fashion fans can expect to be wowed! American Dream is designed to be a tourist destination.

Big Snow Indoor Ski and Snow Park

How are you courting foreign visitors?
While we plan for hotels to come on-site, we’re currently active within the travel industry, promoting American Dream globally. International travelers can purchase tickets to our entertainment offerings before arriving in the U.S., and retail packages will let shoppers take advantage of tax-free benefits on clothing and shoes. We’ve also designed and integrated the latest technology throughout every area of the property, touching every aspect of customers’ experiences — from multilingual directories to RFID wristbands, mobile wallets, and enhanced and efficient transportation options—that will be sure to impress, and have visitors talking about us.

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