The Nation’s Largest Shopping Mall is Coming to South Florida

Photo Credit: Five Group

American Dream Miami will be the largest shopping center in the US. The mall is expected to open by 2025. Construction is set to begin in late 2021 by Canadian development firm Triple Five Group, according to Miguel Diaz De La Portilla (Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr) the law firm that represents Triple Five Worldwide. The company already manages several malls in North America, including Minnesota’s Mall of America. Recently they opened American Dream Meadowlands in New Jersey. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was among the first visitors to American Dream Meadowlands, a $3 billion project.

Diaz De La Portilla said Triple Five Group expects to spend between $4.5 billion to $5 billion to build five million square feet in unincorporated northwest Miami-Dade County by Florida’s Turnpike, Interstate 75 and Miami Gardens Drive. 

Pending a final site plan approval, the next coming months will be focused on interchanges needed on the Turnpike, Interstate 75 and Northwest 170th St, said Diaz de la Portilla. Accessibility to roadways is key. The mall can’t open unless this is first settled. The Miami Dade County Commission approved a zoning change required for the project in May 2018, but plans for the theme park have not been submitted (yes, there is going to be a theme park inside the shopping center).

There will also be a water park and an ice skating rink.

What the waterpark could look like at the American Dream Mall in Miami, FL. 

Photo Credit: Five Group

American Dream Miami will have a 16-story indoor ski slope, a 20-slide water park, a 14-screen 3-D movie theater, and a performing arts center representing 2.7 million square feet of entertainment and common space, plus the shopping component once all required permits are approved and construction is completed.  It will look more like an amusement park than a traditional mall. The mall will also include a giant indoor pool, as well as “submarine” rides, dozens of restaurants and up to 1,200 retail stores. The mall park will have indoor lakes and an aquarium.

Indoor ice skating rink at American Dream Miami.

Photo Credit: Five Group

There have been some concerns raised by locals and local government officials about the effect the mall will have on traffic in the area. The city is already full of malls that cause enough traffic. Residents in northwest Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward have mounted public opposition to the project. They fear opening up a new mega-mall such as American Dream will worsen traffic congestion on I-75 and the turnpike. A traffic study shows American Dream Miami will generate 70,000 vehicle trips in and out of the property.

To help alleviate these concerns, Triple Five Group says they will spend $210 million in road and interchange improvements, including widening Miami Gardens Drive for a new bus lane from I-75 to Northwest 57th Avenue. The company will also pay $5.9 million in upfront impact fees to expand five Miami-Dade bus routes to the mega-mall. Bus services and private shuttles from Broward County will also be brought on to help with traffic congestion and transportation to and from the mall. Building a $12 million transit center is also part of the plan.

There are also concerns about taxpayer money being used to fund the project. Competitors such as Simon Property Group, GGP, and Taubman have formed the group South Florida Taxpayers Alliance to oppose any effort to give Triple Five Group government subsidies for American Dream Miami. During a public hearing, the Alliance warned county commissioners about Triple Five Group’s history of demanding taxpayer financing and public funds for its projects.

Several county commissioners have voted against Triple Five Group, such as commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. Cava expressed her opinion in the meeting that the company’s offer to help relieve traffic was not enough and that American Dream Miami would undermine the county’s investment in a new rapid transit plan. Jeff Bercow, a government affairs and land use attorney representing the alliance, noted Triple Five Group received a tax break for the mall in Minnesota and suggested Miami-Dade officials ban the company from trying to use county funds for the project.

“Tax dollars should not be used to line the pockets of these wealthy businessmen,” Bercow said. “Based on the extensive track record of Triple Five, we feel it is necessary to protect the public.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and several commissioners said in the meeting that no county funds would be used for the project. Mayor Gimenez said Triple Five was already informed they would receive no public funds or tax breaks. “As long as I am here, it’s no,” Gimenez said. “I was very clear that we are not going to give any county funds for this project.”