Massive Miami mall to be more show than shop

A massive Miami mall plan bucks the downsizing trend for US retail properties – but is it really a mall?

Approval was granted last month for US Triple Five Group to develop a US$4 billion centre in Florida to be called American Dream Miami. The developer describes the 6.2 million sqft destination as “a model for all retail locations of the future”.

It is a serious plan: US Triple Five owns the country’s current largest shopping destination, the Mall of America in Minnesota and spent four years securing approvals for the Florida project. But while it’s dubbed a shopping centre, many might characterise it as more of an amusement park or holiday destination. The company hopes that features like a 2000-room hotel, a submarine lake and an artificial ski slope will attract 30 million visitors annually, which is more than Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom draws.

American Dream Mall 2

Spearheading the project is Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, an attorney with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, who in an interview with FierceRetail described American Dream Miami as “55 per cent entertainment and 45 per cent retail”.

“In comparison, approximately 25 per cent of Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is entertainment space, with the remainder being retail. But what will truly make ADM stand out isn’t just the ratio of entertainment options to retail: What will distinguish ADM from your run-of-the-mill mall is the spectacular nature of its entertainment options. Where else in the world will families be able to ski indoors, pilot a real submarine, watch Chinese acrobats, eat at a world class restaurant and shop for their favorite brands in one action-packed day?”.

American Dream Mall 1

With the lines between retail and entertainment becoming increasingly blurred by necessity in the modern e-commerce age, de la Portilla clearly sees non-retail activities as crucial in drawing shoppers away from their laptops and smartphones.

“The new business model is giving people an experience you can only get by showing up. It’s true that Amazon continues to dominate the retail market, but when you take a look at those retail properties that offer experiences to people, whether it’s dining or entertainment, they do a lot better.”

Live entertainment, skiing, fine-dining are things “you can’t do online”.

“ADM will give people a reason to leave their homes. Consumers are also looking for particular brands and products under one roof.”

While it is too early to reveal the identity of retail tenants, de la Portilla promises a mix of high-end and affordable brands in the massive Miami mall.

For more details, including de la Portilla’s predictions of what shopping malls will look like in 2025, read the Q&A interview with de la Portilla on FierceRetail.

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