The long-delayed luxury wing at the American Dream shopping and entertainment megamall in the New Jersey Meadowlands now has a definite opening date, September 17.
The luxury wing, named The Avenue by American Dream’s developer, Triple Five, will be anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue. Some 20 other retailers along with an upscale restaurant, Carpaccio, and Brut, a champagne bar, are also scheduled to open that day, according to American Dream.
The mall, however, is still working to fill empty spaces in the wing caused by the bankruptcies of marquee tenants that dropped out during the years while the project was under construction.
The luxury wing, once touted as a core element of the mall’s mix has been beset by the bankruptcies of some of its promised tenants, and delays caused both by difficulties in getting tenants to commit, construction issues, and the pandemic.
The luxury wing was originally scheduled to open in March, 2020. That opening was delayed to March, 2021, and then postponed until Fall, 2021.
Saks, which according to Saks insiders had been ready to open in time for the original date, opted to wait until it had more retail company in the wing, and for pandemic restrictions to ease.
American Dream had intended Saks to be one of four luxury flagship anchors, along with a Lord & Taylor store, Barneys, and an FAO Schwarz store that would replace the iconic New York City store as a global tourist attraction. The FAO store was derailed by the bankruptcy of its parent, Toys R Us. Lord & Taylor’s bankruptcy left it an online-only retailer; and Barneys closed its stores in early 2020.
In a press release, American Dream said Saks will be joined in the luxury wing by Hermes, Saint Laurent, Tiffany & Co., Dolce Gabbana, Mulberry and other stores. Ken Downing, chief creative officer of Triple Five, told WWD that more than 20 stores will be ready to open on September 17, along with Saks.
The 300,000 square-foot wing is 70% leased, American Dream officials told WWD.
The Avenue wing, Downing said, is designed to resemble a boutique hotel, with salon-style seating arrangements scattered in the common areas in front of the stores.
Saks seven years ago decided to bet big on the American Dream, opting to close its stores in two luxury malls in New Jersey, at The Mall at Short Hills, and The Shops at Riverside, and commiting to make American Dream its only location in New Jersey.
“We are excited to bring our reimagined luxury experience to American Dream with a selection of prestigious brands and offerings unseen anywhere else in the state,” Don Ghermezian, president of American Dream, said in a statement. “The Avenue at American Dream builds on our premiere offerings, reinforcing American Dream’s position as a top entertainment and retail destination,” he said.
The luxury wing originally was touted by American Dream as a way to draw global tourists to the complex. With the pandemic limiting international travel, currently most of the mall’s visitors are coming from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, Downing told WWD.
Ghermezian, who is now boasting of “a selection of prestigious brands and offerings unseen anywhere in the state,” previously promised the luxury wing would be a collection of stores unlike anything in the world. The pandemic, and the other headwinds American Dream has faced, apparently have caused him to set his sights a bit closer to home.