THE CFO OF THE EVER EXPANDING AMERICAN DREAM AT MEADOWLANDS IS REIMAGINING THE FUTURE OF RETAIL AND ENTERTAINMENT
BY ERIK SCHONING • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
American Dream at Meadowlands runs on a simple but powerful motto: to surprise and delight. e booming retail and entertainment mega complex is a one stop shop for a vast range of activities, from indoor skiing and amusement rides to designer shopping and contemporary ne dining. As CFO of Triple Five Group, the company that owns and operates American Dream, Adi Adair dedicates her days to delivering on the promise to surprise and delight each and every guest.
Today American Dream is bustling, but its road to becoming a premier destination in New Jersey wasn’t without the occasional bump. Before its acquisition by Triple Five, the project was bogged down by lack of funding and delays in construction. Triple Five took over in 2013, and American Dream opened piecemeal in 2019 and 2020, delayed by the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“The challenge was that a different developer had started the project on a much lower scale before we took over,” Adair said. “There was some stigma we had to get over, but I think we have made a lot of amazing headway within the community. Opening during COVID was also a challenge. We’ve been meeting these challenges, but there were unique opportunities, too. We got to reinvent the project.”
It can be daunting to illustrate American Dream to the uninitiated. Adair likes the term “entertainment retail center,” a fitting description considering 55% of the site is devoted to entertainment and 45% to retail. There’s the DreamWorks Water Park, the largest indoor water park in North America, and Nickelodeon Universe, the biggest indoor theme park in the entire Western hemisphere. There’s indoor ice skating, mini golf, and an escape room. Big Snow is a year round indoor ski resort blanketed in curtains of genuine snow. For shoppers, American Dream offers a swathe of luxury retailers, including Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, Balenciaga, and Dolce & Gabbana, plus mainstay destinations like Best Buy and Bath & Body Works. As Adair pointed out, there’s something for every type of interest.
Adair’s professional background is in real estate, and she can tout several years of experience in high level property management. Her multi faceted career was built on designing and executing strategies to improve finance and accounting operations in firms large and small. But American Dream isn’t your typical commercial property, and leading it has required Adair to draw on and expand her expertise. She’s enjoyed the challenge.
“At my previous companies, I’ve had some involvement in hospitality, say if we were developing a hotel, for example,” Adair said. “But Triple Five is truly an entertainment/ hospitality company. So there’s the real estate development and property management aspect, which has been my forte, what I love and know, but having this entertainment and hospitality focus added to my area of management and finance has been a welcome challenge. It’s very cool to have guest experience interactions where it’s all about creating a memory. The guest experiences are super important to us at American Dream and Triple Five.”
This focus on hospitality and guest experience starts from the top down: Adair and her team run specialized trainings and seminars to position the customer experience as the best it can be, from the moment they walk through the doors. Adair also ensures the online and ticketing experiences are seamless, as well as steer the financial side of the operation. Every detail has to be accounted for, which can be a challenge when running a facility with a staff that nears 1,500 employees.
“We have a wide dynamic of employees, from retirees looking for supplementary income to teenagers taking their first job,” Adair said. (Today American Dream’s occupancy sits at 80%, the result of careful growth and expansion, a testament to the meaningful relationships developed between the company and its tenants.) “You get to see people at different levels coming from all over New Jersey. Between our employees and our tenants’ employees, we’re going to be one of the biggest employers in the state once we’re 100% occupied. That makes me feel good, knowing we are creating jobs.”
Adair works closely with the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce and other government entities to make sure the company’s presence is felt beyond the complex’s walls. She presents the awards at monthly Heroes of the Dream ceremonies, celebrating Garden State residents who have gone above and beyond to help others. American Dream also hosts guests for the Make A Wish International Wish Day. While the company owns properties across the country, the Ghermezian family, owners of Triple Five, have even relocated to New Jersey themselves.
“We’re New Jersey based,” Adair said. “The Ghermezian family has made New Jersey the headquarters for Triple Five. We’ve been embraced by the community, which is important to us. We want to be part of the community, to give back and participate, whatever that looks like.”
As Adair looks to the future of American Dream, her priorities are to reach 100% occupancy and to have people asking: what is American Dream doing tomorrow? Her answer, already, is just about everything. The company often partners with the adjacent Meadowlands Sports Complex for high profile events like concerts. (Adair remembers scores of Swifties descending upon American Dream in the lead up to Taylor Swift’s concert dates at the arena.) Soon there will be a movie theater in the space, and there’s also a hotel in the works. It’s all part of a greater business strategy to become a total experience, one that even rivals names like Disney. Even amid grand ambitions, for Adair, it’s all about creating memorable moments. So far, for all her guests, the experience has been unforgettable.
1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford
833.263.7326 / americandream.com