The United States’ biggest shopping mall is officially being built in Miami.
Named “American Dream Miami,” the six million square foot project will be located in Northwest Miami-Dade, where I-75 meets the Florida Turnpike.
It’s so large that the mall’s developer, Triple Five, has planned an indoor ski slope, an artificial beach, a submarine lake, a roller coaster, an aquarium and a permanent circus — in addition to the retail area, according to the Miami Herald.
The cost? $4 billion.
Behind closed doors, Triple Five lobbyists have been pushing for this construction for years. Earlier this year, backed by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, they won the county’s approval. Only one commissioner out of nine voted against it.
The commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava, is now running for re-election and facing retaliation by the developers, who are donating to her opponent Gus Barreiro’s campaign.
But Cava isn’t the only one who thinks the megamall is absolute madness.
Many have opposed the project based on the various social and environmental problems it entails — beginning with the developer’s claim that the mall will “create jobs.”
Triple Five suggests that the mall will employ 14,000 people, but turns a blind eye to the fact that that 60 percent of them will earn less than $25,000 a year.
Let’s put that number in context. An analysis made by the FIU Metropolitan Center revealed that “85 percent of Miami-Dade residents earning the median household income of $44,000 can’t afford to buy a home.”
The megamall’s employees would earn a little more than half of that.
In parallel, environmental issues are numerous. Triple Five expects roughly 70,000 vehicle trips a day coming in and out of the mall, heavily worsening Miami’s traffic and air pollution problems.
In addition, the location where construction is taking place is disastrous. The area sits on the very border of the Urban Development Boundary — which means it’s on the verge of damaging the Everglades. It’s also “one of the most flood-prone and sea-level-rise prone areas of Miami-Dade County,” according to Urban Impact Lab.
Environmentalists have criticized the lack of a plan to manage storm flooding and to recycle water, considering that the megamall will have to run a water park and literally make its own fake snow in plain tropical-weather Miami.
We need to think about what this means.
Who is this mall for? What does it mean for Miami residents, students, workers or to our wetlands?
Why do we need a $4 billion oversized private development that purports to build artificial lakes and snow — completely out of touch with the Floridian climate and culture?
We don’t. But developers and investors do. The American Dream Miami mall, with all its nonsensical grandeur, has one exclusive function: to continue generating profit in a rotting economic system where it’s increasingly harder to do so.
Simple malls don’t suffice anymore. Many have closed, and analysts predict that at least a quarter of all U.S. malls will die in five years.
Make no mistake: our profit-driven economic system is played out, and as long as we’re oblivious to that, abominations like the American Dream Miami Mall will continue to emerge.