Murphy remains optimistic on American Dream megamall

Gov. Phil Murphy made three things clear regarding the American Dream megamall:

  1. He’s read the reports about its financial struggles;
  2. The developers, Triple Five, have not reached out to the state in search of aid;
  3. He’s still a big believer in the project — and the concept of experiential retail.

Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, said all this in response to a question regarding the report that American Dream’s creditors were calling in their collateral — which is potential revenue from the developers’ other megamalls, in Minneapolis and Alberta.

“We talk to these folks and work with them all the time,” he said. “But I’m not aware of any other financial discussions involving us.

“Having said that, I still am a believer.”

Murphy said the idea of experiential retail — combining amusement-type activities with shopping — make sense to him. In a non-COVID world.

“It’s an extraordinary concept that I think, in a normal time, is still a winner,” he said. “I still think there’s a place for something that is as experiential as this thing is to go to.

“They still believe that it is a big tourist attraction. And my guess is that, at a normal time, they’re probably right. I really could see somebody going there as a destination.”

Other notes from the briefing.

Murphys are now eligible for COVID vaccine

Murphy said he and his wife, Tammy Murphy, will be eligible to get the vaccine, starting Monday, since they both are in the 55 and up age category.

He said he still won’t cut the line.

“We’ll go online, just like everyone else is doing it (and) we’ll try to get our appointment,” he said.

And, while Murphy acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of people will join the eligible list Monday, he said he is confident that the state processing system can handle it.

“We wouldn’t be taking this step if we didn’t think it could,” he said. “But, again, remember, this is in the context without question of an ongoing supply-demand imbalance. So, I’m very confident in our technology, team duties, team and their inputs. But, when you add a new group of people, you add, at least temporarily, to the supply-demand imbalance.

Final word

Murphy on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal

“This infrastructure plan is a huge game-changer for us. If you are investing heavily in things like infrastructure, climate, roads, bridges, rails, tunnels, because of our density, because of our location, because of our legacy assets, we are a disproportionate winner. So, we’re going to win much more significantly, relative to an average American state. And, I will say with some amount of pride: We’re doing a lot of stuff that’s embedded in that $3 trillion plan, access to community college, access to pre-K, climate initiatives, all-time high investment in infrastructure. So, for a lot of reasons, we like what the president is doing.”