The Avenue, as the luxury wing of the more than 3 million-square-foot American Dream entertainment and retail complex is called, got a shot of adrenalin on Tuesday when the center announced that two heavy hitters are greatly expanding their footprints.
Gucci, which now has an in-store shop at the center’s Saks Fifth Avenue, will open a standalone, two-story, 10,000-square-foot unit. Saint Laurent, a fellow Kering brand, will soon expand its 3,200-square-foot space to 7,000 square feet with the store spanning two floors and creating its largest New Jersey location.
The upscale retail destination is anchored by the only Saks Fifth Avenue in New Jersey, and boasts the first Northeast location of favorite Bal Harbour eatery Carpaccio. Other luxury brands at The Avenue include Hermès and Tiffany & Co., and there’s a store for Manhattan-based designer Alexander Wang, among others.
As a premier luxury brand with a timeless approach to fashion, Gucci complements The Avenue’s over-the-top trappings, which include enormous crystal chandeliers, elaborate topiary-filled gardens, murals and sculptures by Jonathan Adler, who served as the creative director for the high-end wing, which opened on September 17 to coincide with New York Fashion Week.
The Avenue had been plagued with setbacks, from the bankruptcy of Barneys New York, a one-time a tenant, to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ken Downing, chief creative officer, who was a driving force behind American Dream’s unique aesthetic, from the lavish cabanas at the Dream Works Water Park to the koi pond and fountains at The Avenue, last month left center owner Triple Five, for a job as chief brand officer of Hearst Luxury Collection Commerce, where he’ll create the vision and marketing for an editor-driven digital shopping platform.
MORE FOR YOU
Don Ghermezian, president of American Dream, previously projected sales per square foot at the center of $2,000. The parks were reportedly doing well until the Covid-19 pandemic reared its head leaving families skittish about taking children to the destinations.
Overseas tourism, which was also supposed to be a big driver of traffic at the center, has also suffered due to the pandemic and the Omicrom strain of the virus, which is causing a spike in infections.
A spokeswoman said that the local New Jersey and New York communities are responding to the mix of entertainment, shopping and dining at American Dream. “Both our extensive lineup of flagship retail and our 1.7 million square feet of unrivaled entertainment are driving traffic and sales,” she said.
“As tourism starts returning to the New York/New Jersey market, we are seeing that traffic come to American Dream,” the spokeswoman added. “We’re seeing a lot of guests from Florida, Ohio and California, and as tourism to the region continues to increase, it will only fuel the fire at American Dream.”
It remains to be seen whether luxury customers will want to shop at the 3 million-square-foot center, which features a Nickelodeon amusement park, as well as hundreds of more affordably-priced stores, but the expansions of Gucci and Saint Laurent bode well for The Avenue, which has a dedicated entrance and valet, allowing high-end shoppers to walk straight into the environment.
“The Avenue at American Dream is seeing outstanding traffic and is performing very well since opening in September with several of our retail partners exceeding their projections,” the spokeswoman said.
American Dream has had a long and troubled history. Mills Corp. in 2005 broke ground on Xanadu — as the project previous name — but ran out of money and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Colony Capital