American Dream — the long-delayed mega-mall that’s slated to open this fall off the New Jersey Turnpike — will have an indoor ski slope and water park, a giant Ferris wheel and even a fleet of helicopters to fly in shoppers from Manhattan.
One thing it could still use: more high-end fashion boutiques from labels such as Thom Browne; Amiri, the streetwear brand hawking $325 T-shirts; and Fear of God, a hip-hop designer selling $795 sweatshirts. (None of those has committed.)
The tortured development project, formerly called Xanadu, has over the past 17 years survived two bankruptcies, three developers, a lawsuit over parking-lot capacity from the Jets and Giants, and endless kvetching in the media over its $1 billion in tax subsidies.
Former Gov. Chris Christie called the boondoggle — which is poised to become the second-biggest mall in the US — “by far the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.”
Now, its developer, Triple Five Group, is making a final push to fill empty space. A big focus, industry insiders say, is convincing cutting-edge luxury brands — some of which have never been in a mall — to put down stakes in what is slated to be more amusement park than shopping center.
About 55 percent of American Dream’s approximately 3 million square feet is devoted to entertainment, including a hockey rink and a Nickelodeon theme park.
“It’s crunch time for them, the final sprint to get those last tenants in,” said real estate broker Marc Frankel of Newmark Knight Frank.
In recent weeks, scores of prospective tenants have been touring the vast construction site in Bentley Luxe golf carts. A large group of executives at Tapestry — the owner of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman — was recently spotted scooting around the site.
But while Triple Five has successfully signed a number of revered retail brands including Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Hermes, it’s also aggressively pursuing brands like Mackage, which sells outerwear for $1,500.
“I have sway in encouraging brands like that,” said fashion lender Gary Wassner, of Hilldun Corp., who recently toured the complex.
Triple Five’s sales pitch to executives such as Wassner includes the helicopter service it’s launching to bring wealthy international tourists and Manhattanites to the complex, which is just five miles away from Times Square but hours’ worth of traffic away on a busy weekend.
“They are trying to find multiple painless ways to get people there, because if it takes an hour to park your car that’s not painless,” Wassner told The Post.
Triple Five, which also owns Mall of America in Minnesota, has purchased several helicopters and has had discussions with partners to run the service.
“Uber’s name has been mentioned almost exclusively in Wall Street circles,” digital consultant Brittain Ladd told The Post.
American Dream declined to address whether it is in talks with Uber, but it acknowledged that it will have a “ride-share hub on site and will offer visitors access via helicopter — making it simple to visit the property from not only New York City, but airports, the Hamptons and more,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The helipad is located on the roof of Saks Fifth Avenue, which signed a lease in 2015 to bring the luxury department store there, decamping from the Short Hills mall to do so.
“With all the discussion about reinventing retail and the need for experiences, American Dream is a road map for future retail development,” said Richard Baker, chairman of Hudson’s Bay Co., owner of Saks Fifth Avenue.