Paul Ghermezian and the Ghermezian Family
The Ghermezians overcame tremendous skepticism when they announced plans for the world’s then largest mall in Edmonton, Alberta. Their company also built the huge Mall of America in Minneapolis.
Neither the woman nor a human resources supervisor named in the lawsuit responded to requests for comment from Patch. Other Triple Five officials declined to discuss the allegations.
Early Life and Education
The Ghermezian family’s story started in Iran, where Jacob Ghermezian began dealing Persian rugs as a teenager. By the early 1950s, he had become one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen. In 1943, he hosted President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in his apartment during the critical Tehran Conference.
The family later moved to Canada and built the huge West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, which remains North America’s largest mall. The family also owns the much-anticipated American Dream Meadowlands, which promises to be a retail and entertainment megaplex.
While some have dismissed the American Dream as a failure in the face of poor financial performance, the Ghermezians remain confident that they can turn it around. They point to the success of their other malls and their track record as strong negotiators, and they insist that they will get New Jersey officials to provide the financial incentives needed for the project to succeed.
JACOBS GHERMEZIAN (1902-2000) built his family’s Oriental rug business into one of Iran’s wealthiest. The business was so successful that in 1943, Jacob hosted President Franklin Roosevelt, U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at his apartment for the critical Tehran Conference to discuss the final stages of World War II and their path to victory.
Project partners praised the Ghermezians — who own Minnesota-based Triple Five, best known for building the sprawling Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada — as enthusiastic, dedicated and honorable. And hard workers, even as they kept a strict Jewish sabbath.
But a former copywriter at the New Jersey mall alleged that she was subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination. She claimed that her supervisor and the owner of a restaurant in American Dream made unwanted advances on her.
Achievement and Honors
The Ghermezians’ family business, Triple Five Group, has developed some of the world’s largest malls. These include the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the massive Mall of America, both of which attract more than 72 million visitors a year.
The Meadowlands Xanadu, which is scheduled to open in October 2021, will also feature the biggest Ferris wheel in the United States and an indoor ski slope. It’s hoped that Cirque du Soleil will also perform there, given the Ghermezians’ flare for showmanship.
The company is a huge philanthropist, giving money to schools and scholarships and supporting synagogues, charities and other institutions across the country and abroad. It’s a practice that Jacob carried on, and which his sons have continued. The family has also donated to the development of a bridge in Brooklyn and a park in Rego Park, Queens.
The family’s fortune grew with the acquisition of land in Edmonton, Alberta, and construction of the world’s largest mall, which still draws 32 million visitors annually. Jacob Ghermezian maintained strict adherence to his Jewish faith and never conducted business on the Sabbath. He also became a prolific philanthropist, funding schools and scholarships, synagogues, and charity organizations in Canada, as well as in the United States.
According to a lawsuit filed by Kruczowy, Ghermezian’s brother, Triple Five CEO Don, was aware of the unwanted advances she received from a restaurant owner at the American Dream Meadowlands mall in Secaucus, but did nothing to stop him. He allegedly referred to her as “boob-licious,” and told her she needed to tone down how spicy she was in order to advance in her career.
The Ghermezian family, of Iranian Jewish origin, has built North America’s three largest malls: West Edmonton Mall, Mall of America and American Dream. Their empire started in Iran with a rug business and grew into a real estate development company.
The family’s latest project, the troubled Xanadu Meadowlands in New Jersey that was renamed American Dream in April, is betting on experiences over merchandise, and Ghermezian says he has no doubt that it will succeed, even as some investors are skeptical.
Project partners describe the Ghermezians as enthusiastic, dedicated and honorable — and hard workers, even while keeping the Jewish sabbath. But not everyone has had a smooth working relationship with the family: A lawsuit filed by a Mall of America employee alleged that her co-workers made unwanted sexual advances and that a mall supervisor abused his position to prevent her from taking time off during a concert.