EAST RUTHERFORD — The coronavirus public health emergency has added to the American Dream mega mall's long list of setbacks, causing the entertainment complex to shift course before it can eventually open.

The 3 million-square-foot mall's final phase was scheduled for March with the opening of many of the mall's 450 retailers along with the DreamWorks water park. Instead, the entire complex is closed indefinitely because of a state order closing non-essential businesses to the public. The complex has been closed since March 16.

Don Ghermezian, co-CEO of American Dream, told CNBC he is optimistic the complex will be stronger when it opens because he believes people will be eager to go out and take a break after weeks of being stuck at home.

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None of the retailers have backed out of their agreements but he expects that many of the chain stores won't survive the year, Ghermezian told CNBC.

Some tenants have made comments about not paying their rent, which puts owners Triple Five in a difficult position as the mall has a mortgage, loans and taxes to pay,  according to Ghermezian.

Triple Five has furloughed most of its staff and cut salaries. American Dream had a job fair at the beginning of March.

Triple Five plans to trim the complex's retail space. American Dream has added a trampoline park and "Instagram-worthy museums, where visitors can pay to spend an afternoon exploring themed rooms with extravagant props and backdrops," Ghermezian said.

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A handful of the mall's 15 entertainment attractions have already opened, including the Big Snow indoor ski park, the Nickelodeon Universe theme park, the NHL-regulation ice rink and the Angry Birds mini golf course. The only retailer that had open is the It's Sugar candy store.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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