Shut for nearly seven months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Dream megamall in New Jersey reopens Thursday.
It marks the first day that the 3-million-square-foot complex, nearly two decades in the making, will finally offer retail stores, including like Zara, Lush, American Eagle and Aritzia. Attractions like a DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Theme Park, Angry Birds mini golf, an indoor ski slope and an ice rink will be open for business again.
American Dream has experienced numerous setbacks, including delayed openings, in the course of its history under various owners. The first wave of retail had been slated to open March 19, but the mall was forced shut three days earlier due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Its current owners, Triple Five Group, are betting parents are eager to get out of the house and entertain their kids at American Dream for the afternoon. They're betting consumers will want to shop at the megamall, despite other nearby shopping malls like Westfield Garden State Plaza.
American Dream has new safety precautions due to the pandemic. Capacity is being capped at 25%. Facial coverings are required. And signage throughout the complex encourages social distancing, with QR codes outside the attractions to encourage contact-free check-ins.
Not everything is opening Thursday at American Dream. A massive luxury retail wing anchored by the department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is expected to open in March. Most of the restaurants are still being completed, too. And Triple Five says it plans to expand the complex to include hotels in coming years.
"What we're building is such a destination," co-CEO Mark Ghermezian told CNBC. "And because of what's happening with Covid, retailers are now choosing destinations to open up."
CNBC visited American Dream earlier this week, ahead of the grand reopening. Here's a look inside.