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Mega-mall mania: Is American Dream Miami still a reality?

South Florida's largest mall faces construction delays

The vision of a colossal retail and entertainment complex, dwarfing all others in the Sunshine State, has captivated Miami-Dade County for nearly a decade. American Dream Miami, a proposed six-million-square-foot behemoth, promised a haven for shoppers and thrill-seekers alike, boasting everything from an indoor ski slope to a submarine lake. But with groundbreaking yet to commence, the project's future remains shrouded in uncertainty.

A mall unlike any other

In 2015, developer Triple Five, the masterminds behind the Mall of America in Minnesota, unveiled their ambitious plans for American Dream Miami. The proposed mega-mall would surpass the Mall of America's footprint by a staggering 400,000 square feet, offering a diverse mix of retail stores and restaurants alongside entertainment options guaranteed to tantalize visitors. Imagine carving fresh powder on an artificial ski slope amidst Miami's balmy weather or embarking on a mesmerizing underwater adventure in a submarine lake – these were just a few of the unique experiences American Dream Miami promised.

Nestled on 175 acres of undeveloped land northwest of Miami Lakes and north of Hialeah, the American Dream Miami site sits strategically between two existing retail giants – Sawgrass Mills Mall to the north and Dolphin Mall to the south. This prime location aimed to capture the attention of a vast customer base, potentially revolutionizing the South Florida shopping scene.

Triple Five, the powerhouse behind American Dream Miami, is no stranger to the world of mega-malls. Headed by the Persian Jewish Ghermezian family, the Canadian-based company boasts an impressive portfolio, including the aforementioned Mall of America, the undisputed king of American shopping malls since its 1992 opening. The family's expertise extends beyond the US border, with the American Dream Meadowlands project in New Jersey serving as another testament to their success. This 3.5-million-square-foot entertainment and retail complex, featuring an indoor ski slope and a Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, exemplifies Triple Five's ability to create immersive destinations.

Hitting the brakes: Delays and roadblocks

Despite securing final construction plans from Miami-Dade County in 2018, the project has yet to break ground. Several factors have contributed to these delays. The initial $4 billion budget faced scrutiny, prompting developers to seek an exemption from a county ban on government subsidies for the project. Negotiations further stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing additional setbacks.

Another hurdle lies in a restriction imposed by the original county approval. Existing malls, including Bayside Marketplace and Dolphin Mall, lobbied for a clause barring the use of county funds to subsidize American Dream Miami. This remains a sticking point, with Triple Five pushing for the restriction to be lifted. Additionally, the original agreement mandates that Triple Five shoulder the financial burden of constructing road systems connecting the development to major highways.

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What's in store for American Dream Miami?

While details regarding specific anchor stores remain under wraps, plans suggest the presence of five major anchors alongside a plethora of smaller retailers and restaurants, all spread across a dedicated 3.5 million square feet of retail space. Beyond the shopping experience, the project envisions a vibrant entertainment complex with an amusement park featuring a Ferris wheel and roller coasters. And who wouldn't crave a taste of winter in the tropics? American Dream Miami incorporates plans for a water park, an indoor ski slope, and an ice rink – a welcome respite from South Florida's relentless sunshine.

For history buffs, a touch of nostalgia might be evoked by the inclusion of an artificial lake designed to house submarines, reminiscent of the Deep Sea Adventure area Triple Five operated at their West Edmonton Mall in Canada for two decades. The entertainment complex could potentially include three hotels with a combined capacity of 1,600 rooms, a 1,000-seat live performance venue, and a 1,400-seat movie theater.

The future of American Dream Miami hinges on navigating the current roadblocks. Calle Ocho News will continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments surrounding this ambitious project. Sign up for our newsletter to receive breaking news straight to your inbox, and don't hesitate to explore our advertising options to reach a dedicated audience of South Florida residents.

News Source: Miami Herald

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