March 6, 2015 / 11:24 PM / 2 years ago

Canadian company proposes largest U.S. shopping mall in south Florida

2 Min Read

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Canadian company that owns the largest mall in the United States is proposing a more massive Florida shopping complex that could feature a ski slope, sea lion shows, and a manmade lake where patrons can take submarine rides.

Edmonton-based Triple Five Worldwide, started by Iranian rug retailer Jacob Ghermezian, would still need to buy and rezone the 200-acre (80-hectare) tract several miles away from downtown Miami.

The project's cost is estimated at $4 billion, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The mall would be larger than Minnesota’s Mall of America, which has more than 500 shops and 50 restaurants, according to Triple Five.

"Like our other properties, American Dream-Miami will generate tens of thousands of jobs and have an annual economic impact ... in the billions," the company said in a statement.

The announcement, however, bucks the trend of shopping malls falling out of favor across the United States as the sprawling centers lose customers to online retailers and discount superstores.

Of the nation’s approximately 1,100 malls, a few dozen have shuttered in recent years and more are teetering on the brink, said D.J. Busch, a senior analyst for real estate research company Green Street Advisors.

"Our best guess over the next 10 years is 15 percent of the mall stock will be closed or repurposed into something other than retail," he said.

However luxury malls or destination centers similar to Triple Five’s Mall of America, which offers an indoor roller coaster, will be the most profitable and likely to succeed, according to Busch.

"What’s more important than ever is creating an experience, some type of offerings that you can’t really replicate online,” Busch said.

Editing by David Adams and Jonathan Oatis

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