Land swap brings American Dream Miami mega mall closer to 2021 groundbreaking

Rebecca San Juan

The American Dream mega mall is on track, thanks to a land swap with the Graham Companies.

Canadian developer Triple Five Group acquired about 25 acres within the footprint of American Dream Miami after trading 27 acres with Miami Lakes-based Graham Companies. The deal was first reported by the South Florida Business Journal. The transaction provides the final slice of the 174 acres needed for the mall.

The two parcels acquired by Triple Five were valued at $12.7 million; the three parcels acquired by Graham were also valued at $12.7 million.

No money was exchanged, but CIBC Bank USA bumped its mortgage on Triple Five’s holdings from $15.35 million to $19.65 million, according to the Business Journal.

“This was always part of the original plan. This is part of the assemblage for American Dream Mall. That swap was contemplated in 2015. We had agreed that we were going to do this since then,” said Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, who is an attorney at the Brickell office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr and represents Triple Five Worldwide.

The acreage acquired by Graham Cos., located south of NW 178th Street and east of 97th Avenue, will be incorporated in a 336-acre plan to build 2,000 apartment units, retail and office space, Diaz de la Portilla said.

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Despite the pandemic, the project is on track, said Diaz de la Portilla. Design concepts are being finalized both for the mall and a planned interchange at I-75 and the Florida Turnpike; plans likely will be filed with the county in the fall. “We still need to get the exact mix of entertainment to retail,” Diaz de la Portilla said — before submitting them in the fall. American Dream promotes itself as a local alternative to Orlando theme parks.

Retail, long under siege from online shopping, has suffered during the COVID crisis. Triple Five faces $5 billion in debt related to its 3.3 million-square-foot New Jersey American Dream , according to Bloomberg, which was due to open just as New Jersey shut down. That center has yet to open.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2021. “We are very optimistic that we will be close to that date and that the last quarter of this year is going to be good for entertainment venues,” said Diaz de la Portilla.

“The entertainment venues affected by COVID that currently exist are coming back. People are tired of being locked indoors. There’s a pent-up desire to experience great entertainment destinations.”