Rendering courtesy of Triple Five Group
New Jersey’s American Dream megamall will reopen its doors next month after shuttering for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this summer, the mall’s future looked bleak, with developer Triple Five Group missing mortgage payments and multiple tenants leaving the site. But with American Dream’s indoor ski park officially running again and retail stores and attractions set to reopen on October 1, the mall’s luck may be turning around.
New signage at American Dream; courtesy of Triple Five Group
Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order allowing gyms, health clubs, and amusement and water parks, to reopen for indoor activity as early as September 1. Following that announcement, American Dream’s Big Snow, an indoor ski and snow resort, reopened, with advanced tickets, face coverings, temperature checks, and capacity limits.
On Thursday, October 1, retailers like H&M, Primark, and Zara will open for the first time. DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon-branded theme park, mini-golf, and an NHL regulation-sized ice skating rink, all of which opened for the first time last year, will reopen on October 1. More openings will be announced soon, according to a press release.
“We know that our community has been waiting to return, but it was important to us that we took the proper time and precautions needed to welcome guests back in the safest possible manner,” Mark Ghermezian, co-CEO of American Dream, said in a statement.
“The last several months have been difficult for everyone, and even though we are still adjusting to the new normal, we are confident that we can provide guests a safer environment to make dreams come true for everyone, everywhere, as well as create much needed job opportunities in New Jersey.”
American Dream worked with state and local officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Hackensack Meridian Health to put together a health and safety plan. Face coverings are required by all guests and each attraction will operate at a limited capacity. Hand sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the mall and physical distance markers and plexiglass barriers will be installed.
In New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that malls can open on September 9 at 50 percent capacity and with strict social distancing measures and enhanced ventilation. While indoor dining will resume statewide in New Jersey on Friday, restaurants cannot open their dining rooms in NYC yet.
Even before the pandemic hit, American Dream faced some uncertainty after it took nearly two decades to construct. Before it closed in March, just 8 percent of American Dream had opened to the public, with the rest of the mall set to open in phases.
Lord & Taylor and Barneys New York, both of which got out of their lease at the mall after closing stores in New York. As NJ.com reported, other possible tenants currently considering ditching their space at American Deam include Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, and The Children’s Place. Tenants CMX Cinemas and GNC both filed bankruptcy because of COVID-19, with the latter no longer opening at the mall, according to the Commercial Observer.
According to the Real Deal, Triple Five Group had missed its third consecutive $7 million payment on its $1.4 billion mortgage for Minnesota’s Mall of America, which is being used as collateral to pay for the New Jersey project. And contractors and subcontractors have filed over $13 million in construction liens for unpaid work.
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