Phew. The Mall of America will still be the biggest mall in the land.
That will still be true, even though a news release hit the wires last week that announced a new entertainment partner for the $4 billion American Dream mall in northern New Jersey’s Meadowlands. It’s DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the creator of the “Shrek,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Puss in Boots” and “Madagascar” movies.
We’re talking DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the nation’s best-known CEOs.
The theme park for kids of all ages at the American Dream mall will fold in characters from the animated movies for the very first time in North America.
Like Bloomington’s megamall, it’ll morph entertainment and retail and be owned by Canada’s Triple Five Worldwide. But at 3.2 million square feet, it won’t be bigger than MOA, which spans 4.6 million square feet. At least not initially.
Originally called Xanadu, Triple Five’s Ghermezian family is the third developer to try to make the American Dream project work.
Idle since 2009, it’s already about 80 percent built (although not occupied), and Triple Five is now shoring up permits and financing, according to spokesman Alan Marcus. Once that hurdle is cleared, the mall will be completed within 18 to 24 months.
When asked to comment on published reports that Triple Five is cutting a deal with Deutsche Bank AG to provide a $700 million loan to jumpstart the mall, Marcus said no comment.
For now, the news is all about Shrek and friends. Katzenberg said in the news release that American Dream “is poised to become a one-of-a-kind retail and entertainment destination in North America.”
Other plans include a water park, ice skating rink, indoor ski park and movie theaters — beyond the requisite space for shops and restaurants.
But whatever it becomes, it won’t be the biggest mall in America.
Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.