There is something about the most notably wealthy families that make them alluring to the masses. They are even more fascinating than wealthy individuals such as Bezos, Gates, and Buffett. The universal appeal of wealthy family dynasties is the culmination of values associated with their successes, such as authenticity, tradition, heritage, lineage, and quality. The element of wealth within these families suggest royalty, especially if the wealth is intergenerational. It’s tempting for the mind to just assume that the wealth came easy for families such as the Waltons, the Rockefellers, and the Mars family- but their successes were the product of numerous trials and tribulations at large scales due to major investments.
Take the Ghermezian family, for instance. They are a Persian Canadian family that achieved notoriety for having developed several of the world’s largest shopping malls, amongst numerous other businesses. They do so under the umbrella of the family-owned Triple Five Worldwide group. Triple Five is a conglomerate that specializes in shopping malls, entertainment complexes, hotels, real estate and banks. They focus on creating successful mixed-use developments and activities worldwide and encompass the development, management, and ownership of world wide-scale ventures in many fields. The Triple Five has developed, owns and manages the world’s top three largest tourism, retail and entertainment complexes of its kind:
- West Edmonton Mall in Canada
- Mall of America in the United States
- American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey (near completion)
“These three projects will attract over 112 million visitors annually,” says Yonah Ghermezian, the Owner/Partner of Triple Five Group. “The annual visitors are more than the following attractions combined: Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Times Square, NY, the Las Vegas Strip, the French Quarter, NO, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone National Park.” That claim is not a stretch, as over 40 million people walk through the Mall of America annually, and over 30.8 million people walk through the West Edmonton Mall annually.
The American Dream Meadowlands will consist of 55% entertainment and dining facilities, and 45% retail locations. The three point two-million-square-foot mall has been dubbed by Forbes to be “the next step in the evolution of retail.” Sections of it have opened in stages, and it is expected to be fully open for business by the end of March 2020. Entertainment offerings include full-size parks in partnership with the likes of Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and Legoland. There will also be rock climbing, an aquarium, a concert venue, an indoor ski slope, and so much more.
“My family and I had a distinct vision on the American Dream project,” says Yonah Ghermezian. “We knew we had to create an ambient and multi-sensory experience with something for literally everyone. There are multiple grand atriums that are flooded with natural light, with some even housing birds and rabbits. There are also areas that have been designed with social media photography in mind. And in an effort to support the arts, there are museum-scale interiors that feature the artwork of both local and international artists. There is also a 60-foot LED tree, lights, music… we made sure this project is set to live up to its name.”
The story of the Ghermezian family itself starts with Jacob Ghermezian (1902-2000.) According to Kodoom, he started his first business in Iran when he was just 17 years old, and left Iran with his family in the late 1940s and settled in New York. By 1964 they owned 16 retail stores selling rugs throughout the United States and Canada. Between the 1950s and 1970s, they went from being carpet importers to shifting their focus towards real estate development. In 1965 Jacob Ghermezian established a real estate business, Germez Developments, (which is now Triple Five,) to purchase land and resell it to builders in the Ottawa area. Two years later Jacob and the oldest of his four sons moved to Edmonton and began purchasing land there, beginning with a hotel and other properties. Thanks to the region’s oil boom in the 1970s, the Ghermezians’ real estate investments prospered. Eventually the entire family moved to Edmonton. After Jacob Ghermezian died in January 2000 at the age of 97, his sons continued doing business in the “outside the box” spirit with which their father founded the company.
Yonah Ghermezian naturally takes pride in the accomplishments of his family. “A tremendous amount of knowledge and wisdom has been passed on from our patriarch, with great focus on adaptability. It is adaptability that will help keep the major investments of Triple Five fresh and current, which ultimately honors his legacy through continued success.”