Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Retail chains plan N.J. stores to outshine NYC’s

By Daniel Geiger | August 27, 2013

The new American Dream Meadowlands mall is close to signing a host of big-name retailers, some of which are committing to their largest spaces anywhere. Names include Uniqlo, Topshop, Forever21 and Zara.

The owner of a massive and long-delayed mall and entertainment complex next to Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is close to several large deals with major retailers, according to several sources.

Uniqlo, Topshop, Forever21 and Zara are all in advanced negotiations to take space at what is now called American Dream Meadowlands, a project formerly known as Meadowlands Xanadu that was started during the last real estate boom in 2004 but tumbled into default during the downturn.

According to people with knowledge of the deals, many will be flagship locations that will outshine the chain’s outposts on the far side of the Hudson in Manhattan. Zara will occupy about 50,000 square feet in the complex for instance, one of its largest stores globally, and Forever21’s store will be as big or bigger than its Times Square flagship, which is about 100,000 square feet.

Sources also said Cirque du Soleil would perform shows at the venue, which will have other attractions, including an indoor ski slope and the largest Ferris wheel in the U.S. The deals with tenants, who are widely regarded as marquee retailers that appeal to both mass-market and fashion conscious shoppers, marks a major turnaround for the complex and provides hints that it could siphon shoppers who would normally trek into Manhattan.

The complex started development under the mall developer Mills Corp. but was sold unfinished to a partnership led by the investment firm Colony Capital in 2007. During the downturn, the planned 3 million-square-foot complex fell into default and lingered empty for years before being acquired by its current owner, Triple Five Group, in a deal that closed at the start of August.

To help it bring in tenants, Triple Five tapped Sinvin Real Estate, a retail leasing firm that handles deals in Manhattan and across the country.

A representative for Triple Five could not be immediately reached.