Rendering of Triple Five's American Dream retail and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Image:

The New Jersey megamall owned by Triple Five, which is in contract through another affiliate company to purchase more than 1,600 acres of industrial land in Calverton from Riverhead Town, had $245 million in operating losses last year, security filings released this week shows.

The company’s 2022 operating losses nearly quadrupled compared to losses posted in 2021, according to the filings, which were made public on Monday. The company previously reported having a $59.4 million operating loss in 2021, which followed a $64 million operating loss in 2020. 

The project’s total liabilities and equity dropped $358 million last year — from roughly $3.1 billion to $2.7 billion — according to the financial filings, which were posted on the website of a federal regulatory organization that oversees municipal bond markets.

The American Dream Mall, a $5.7 billion, 3-million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, partially opened in October 2019, but was forced to close in March 2020 under pandemic restrictions. It partially reopened in October 2020.

Since the pandemic began, the mall has had difficulties paying its lenders. Last year, the company was at risk of defaulting on the $800 million public bond. 

The megamall’s financial problems have put the public in doubt of the financial ability of the Triple Five affiliate in contract with Riverhead Town, Calverton Aviation & Technology (CAT), to purchase and develop the land in the Calverton Enterprise Park. 

Representatives of CAT maintain that the Triple Five companies that own the mall are separate entities from CAT, and the financial status of one does not affect the other. CAT is owned by Triple Five Real Estate I (75%) and Luminati Aerospace (25%). Justin Ghermezian, a member of the Canadian business family that runs Triple Five, is indirectly a 100% owner of Triple Five Real Estate I; Luminati Aerospace is owned by the estate of Daniel Preston, the company’s CEO who died in January, according to CAT representatives.

Triple Five spokesperson Gary Lewi said today that CAT’s “counsel addressed this very question from the podium — that these are profoundly different entities so losses or profits within one development has nothing to do with another development undertaken by the company. And that is a consistent and widely accepted business model throughout the development community.”

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency is currently reviewing a financial assistance application from CAT to develop the site and facilitate the completion of the town’s  $40 million sale of the property to CAT. The IDA is vetting CAT’s finances in its due diligence review of the application and at the request of Riverhead Town. CAT was found “qualified and eligible” to purchase the land by the Riverhead Town Board in 2018 in a 3-2 vote.

A public forum last month gave the public a glimpse into how CAT will look to finance the project and brought some of that financial vetting into the spotlight. 

MORE COVERAGE: Riverhead IDA board members question Calverton Aviation & Technology about its finances

That forum followed a forum earlier in the month focused on CAT’s development plans. During that presentation, representatives continued to distance themselves from the presentation they gave the IDA last September where they pitched EPCAL’s full buildout as an air cargo logistics hub. 

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: