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Mall Of America Owner Staring Down Billions In Debt

Triple Five Group, the developer of the Mall of America outside Minneapolis and the American Dream mall in New Jersey, with another one planned for Miami, is facing acute financial troubles because of the coronavirus.

The American Dream mall, when it was under construction, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey

Canadian Triple Five, owned by the Ghermezian family, has about $5B in debt on its properties and has missed mortgage payments, Bloomberg reports.

The family pioneered the concept of the megamall. In the 1980s, it developed the 5.3M SF West Edmonton Mall, with more than 800 stores and an indoor amusement and water park. In 1992, it opened the 4.8M SF Mall of America near Minneapolis, now with 520 stores and 60-plus restaurants. Both have become tourist attractions. 

In 2013, Triple Five took over what would become the 3.3M SF American Dream Mall in New Jersey, designed to include an indoor ski slope and water park. It opened some of its attractions last October and was on the verge of opening its retail wing when it was forced to close due to the coronavirus.

Triple Five's website says that its three malls attract more than 112 million visitors annually: more than Disneyland, Disney World, Times Square, Las Vegas, the French Quarter, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park combined.

Almost $1.7B of construction loans for the American Dream in East Rutherford were backed by 49% of the equity interests in West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America. But those two properties carry more than $2B in debt, and Triple Five missed two monthly payments on Mall of America’s $1.4B mortgage, which has gone into special servicing.

Experts opined that Triple Five will face continued problems as shoppers avoid crowds and retailers default.

Near Miami, Triple Five has been planning to develop its biggest project yet: a $4B, 5M SF theme park and shopping center on 175 acres, designed to include a performing arts center, an indoor waterpark, an indoor ski slope, a skating rink, an aquarium and submarine rides. 

As of December, construction was slated to being in 2021 and finish in 2025, the Miami Herald reported. A lawyer who represents Triple Five in Miami did not respond to a request for comment at press time.