That giant 93-foot glass-and-steel slide that’s been tantalizing shoppers at Aventura Mall for months is finally ready to ride.
The “Aventura Slide Tower,” which was designed by German sculptor Carsten Höller, opened to the public Monday — the crowning touch in the first phase of Aventura Mall’s ambitious, $214 million expansion. Additions include a luxurious food hall, a covered parking garage, art installations and several new, world-famous tenants.
Expanding a mall in an era when the retail industry is struggling seems counter-intuitive — if not downright wacky. But Aventura’s new 315,000-square-foot wing follows the success of other brick-and-morter shopping centers that are seeking to provide entertainment beyond shopping. The idea is to make the word “mall” synonymous with a social outing — much as it was when malls themselves were a novelty.
The mammoth Aventura Mall, located at 19501 Biscayne Blvd., has grown from its original 1.2 million square feet when it opened in 1983 to its current 2.7 million square feet, making it the third-largest in the U.S. (Sawgrass Mills is 10th in the country, with 2.4 million square feet). Over the years, stores such as Kaybee Toys have been replaced by more upscale tenants such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton and trendy, hip chains such as Apple, H&M and Anthropologie.
The slide marks the entrance to the new wing. The three-level structure is fronted by an 84-foot by 50-foot glass wall and topped by a 350-foot skylight that allows sunlight to shine down to the ground floor.