The Fall of the American Dream


Bridgette Valdescona, Staff Reporter

The American Dream Meadowlands, less than two years after opening, is now millions of dollars in debt. This megamall features many attractions and spans three million square feet; it has faced and is currently facing many problems including financing, competition, legal issues, and more.

The idea for the American Dream was proposed in 2003, as the Meadowlands Xanadu by The Mills and Mack-Cali, and began construction in 2004. It had big plans and a projected opening for 2007. Anne Valdescona, a parent, has visited the mall and is quite interested in its history.

“The mall was in development for years, and I was curious about what they were doing for all those years,” Valdescona said.

Other malls paled in comparison to the American Dream’s numerous attractions and shops, but the mall would soon be overtaken by a new company. Now, the opening date was estimated to be late 2008.

“The mall was being built during the financial crisis of 2008, which caused it to stop development,” Valdescona said.

The crisis caused many of the future tenants to go bankrupt and left the mall short of money, further pushing back the mall’s opening. The mall was passed around until the Triple Five Group took over. Over this span of time, the mall often had construction delays due to payments being overdue. 

“It’s been in construction for a long time, since I have driven past it many times in the past few years wondering when it would be finished,” Valdescona said.

In October of 2019, with only a few hiccups in between, the first stage of the mall opened. Its full opening was planned for March 2020. Tamara Llambelis, office manager at UACHS, works at the American Dream mall part time. Llambelis has shared that she hopes this is just an obstacle and not the end for the mall. 

I do believe they will get through this once the pandemic is over; otherwise, my only concern would be losing my job,” Llambelis said. 

The mall shut down, but reopened in October of 2020. Would the mall still be able to make back even a little of the $5 billion it cost to build, even after the initial hype died down and a pandemic still at large?

With the controversial and rocky road the mall has taken just to start up, it’s inevitable that the American Dream still faces many problems today. The Triple Five had used $9.3 million in reserves on August 2nd to pay for a fraction of its $290 million debt. Many malls face similar issues with finances.

The American Dream has made plans to accommodate this new way of shopping by orienting the mall more towards entertainment, with the additions of the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, the Angry Birds Mini Golf course, Sea Life, and more.

It is rewarding to see families enjoy themselves in the Nickelodeon Universe,” Llambelis said. “There are a number of interesting things to see and do at the American Dream mall and I would definitely encourage you to go with your family and check it out.”