A rendering of the planned American Dream Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford. —Courtesy: Triple Five Group
By Joshua Burd
The developer of the American Dream project in the Meadowlands has assembled the nearly $3 billion financing package needed to complete the massive retail and entertainment complex, allowing it to resume construction and look ahead to a March 2019 opening.
Triple Five Group said late last week that Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan had completed the planned sale of $1.1 billion in tax-exempt bonds for the nearly 3 million-square-foot project. Proceeds from the bond sale, along with a $1.67 billion construction loan secured by the same financial team in May, completes the full financing for the project.
“The response by the investment community to the bond offering and private financing have been exceptional, both oversubscribed, confirming strong investor confidence in our vision for American Dream,” Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five, said in a prepared statement. “We would like to thank the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Borough of East Rutherford for their assistance in the bond sale.”
Ghermezian said the step “allows Triple Five to proceed with full construction of this unprecedented project,” which is slated to create tens of thousands of jobs while bringing millions of tourists and billions of dollars in economic growth annually to Bergen County and the state.
It is a milestone for the notoriously stalled project, which was taken over by the Edmonton, Canada-based developer in 2011. Earlier delays go back nearly a decade, when the project formerly known as Xanadu ceased construction under previous developers.
Triple Five, which owns the iconic Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall, resumed construction in 2014 but has faced its own delays tied to the complex financing formula needed to complete the project.
But even as it worked to close that financing gap, Triple Five has continued to gain commitments from major retailers and operators to help populate the mixed-use destination. Most recently, the firm inked a deal with an operator that would bring an 80,000-square-foot, education-themed entertainment center to the complex, along with entertainment brands such as DreamWorks.
Triple Five’s efforts to secure the financing rallied proponents of the project. Jim Kirkos, CEO and president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in late May that the announcement of the construction loan “proves what we have believed since the inception that this amazing project will in fact be completed and will sustain and transform the regional economy here in the Meadowlands for the next 25 years.”
“Projects like this come along once in a lifetime and while it is understandable for skepticism to take over with the many long delays we have experienced, the time has come for us to seize this moment and leverage the economic impact a project like this can have on so many lives,” Kirkos said. “I urge local, county and state leaders to now rally behind this project so we forge a sustained economy through the year 2040.”