Miami Mayor’s Economic Fix: Build America’s Biggest, Tackiest Mall

"The American Dream Miami" mall and retail complex would include an indoor ski slope, a Legoland and sea lions. Image: Miami Herald
“The American Dream Miami” mall and retail complex would include an indoor ski slope, a Legoland, and sea lions. Image: Miami Herald

Forget what you’ve heard about the death of American shopping malls. Yesterday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez unveiled plans for a 200-acre megamall complete with “submarines, a Legoland, sea lions and an artificial ski slope.”

“American Dream Miami,” as they call it, would be the largest mall in America, according to the Miami Herald. The corporation behind the plan is Triple Five, owners of the Mall of America in Minneapolis. Triple Five estimates that the enormous development would cost as much as $4 billion to construct and would eventually employ 25,000 people.

This behemoth would rise on undeveloped land between two major highways not far from the urban growth boundary, and Triple Five is currently negotiating with local officials on the purchase. The exact dimensions of the proposal haven’t been released, but developers claim it would be larger than the Mall of America, which is 4.2 million square feet.

Mayor Gimenez has become a major booster, apparently intrigued by the economic prospects. He told the Miami Herald, “there’s going to be a huge spin-off.”

But there are plenty of red flags. Marta Viciedo of the Miami non-profit Urban Impact Lab said that environmental analyses have shown the project site is in the “most flood prone and sea level-rise prone areas of Miami-Dade County” — lowland areas by the Everglades.

The area is already notorious for traffic congestion and completely inaccessible by transit, she said.

“All these jobs are going to be low paid,” she said. “How are people going to get there?”

Even if the developer funds transit service to the site, the traffic impacts would be huge, and probably very costly for the region, said Viciedo.

Then there’s the question of whether Triple Five will require subsidies itself. The development will be “largely modeled,” the Herald reports, off Triple Five’s “American Dream Meadowlands” project in New Jersey. After more than 10 years under construction, it is still not complete, and in 2011, developers had to seek a $400 million bailout from the state of New Jersey to avoid bankruptcy.

The $2 billion American Dream project has also received $800 million from bonding by local municipalities — four times more than Triple Five itself invested, according to Inside Jersey Magazine, which called it the “butt of jokes for the past decade.”

  • It is Florida don’t forget. About what you’d expect

  • pdq3

    The Ghermezians are nothing if not self-promoters. They had all sorts of claims for the Mall of America way back in the day (like it would have 800 movie theaters – are there 800 theater movies to show?), and there was plenty of legal wrangling along the way, but they did eventually get a more realistic project built.

    I’d listen to them, but keep them on a short leash…

  • Taters

    Modeled after a bankrupt, still-unopened-after-ten-years mall, already bailed-out by taxpayers. There’s the business model. BTW, I am about to break ground on an 8 trillion dollar golf course in the everglades with sub-prime auto loans as collateral. You should too! Just send $199.99 to my Disqus account for your free e-book with details.

  • Erik

    “All these jobs are going to be low paid,” she said. “How are people going to get there?”

    I don’t know about now but in 100 years they could swim there.

  • Judas Peckerwood

    Done and done!

  • RepubAnon

    Glad to hear there will be submarines – they’ll need them to ferry shoppers from dry land to the mall.

    I realize that with big construction projects come big campaign donations – but why not simply buy the Revel Casino from Atlantic City, float it down the coast, and stick that on the undeveloped land? It’d probably be cheaper, and have the same overall impact on the local economy.

  • Randy Neufeld

    Angie, It’s all about spin. Just think of it as America’s preminent pedestian zone

  • acmavm

    Bwahahaha! Modeled after a project that’s still not completed after ten freaking years and one that that taxpayers had to kick in $400 million dollars to keep from going under.

    P.T. Barnum was a freaking optimist.

  • REMONSTER

    JUDAS PECKERWOOD I like the cut of your jib 🙂

  • Don’t bring this anywhere NEAR my town of Miami Beach!!

  • Keys Man 70

    Haters gonna hate.

  • Is the mayor trolling us all? Seems like a left-field economic item to support.

  • philbutler

    Yep, my country has gone completely nuts.

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  • Dave

    Sounds like somebody’s giving Carl Hiaasen a plot for his next mystery novel. Where’s Skink when we really need him?

  • C Monroe

    Don’t forget the locals also on the line for $800 million in bonds if it fails too. So $1.2 billion in New Jersey

  • acmavm

    Well, this sounds exactly like the kind of failure that Rick Snott would be sure to go for.

  • Stephen

    I live right next to the area that they plan on building the mall and the traffic is not as bad only in the mornings and there already making extra lanes and fast lanes

  • spongeblog

    no you dont, no they dont

  • spongeblog

    no you dont, no theyre not