the staff of the Ridgewood Blog
East Rutherford NJ, The opening of the American Dream mega-mall in the Meadowlands has again been delayed. Developers said Monday that the opening of the massive complex will be pushed to sometime in the fall after a late-summer opening had been targeted. This marks just the latest of many years of delays in the project originally known as Xanadu.
“We’ve been hearing this for more than 15 years. This is the fourth time in the last year the opening of American Dream has been put off. What a surprise that there’s another delay. The mall is the largest publicly subsidized development project in state history. Gov. Murphy keeps criticizing corporate subsidies, yet he continues to support this project. We still don’t know when it will open,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “If the governor is serious about cracking down on corporate subsidies, he should be starting with American Dream/Xanadu.”
Gov. Murphy recently created the Economic Development Authority Task Force to evaluate the EDA’s mismanagement of $11 billion in tax incentives provided to business. The American Dream/Xanadu project received $350 million in direct state subsidies from EDA.
“They keep delaying and we keep paying. The more they delay opening the mall, the more public money they keep putting in. As he criticizes wasteful subsidies elsewhere, Gov. Murphy doesn’t seem to be bothered by the mega-mall. Last week Gov. Murphy said a magnetic monorail might be added to the project. That could be another billion dollars added to the $1.15 billion the state has already poured into the project. American Dream/Xanadu has already gotten $300 million in property tax exemptions, nearly $300 million for road improvements and a rail line, and another $31 million from tolls. EDA gave $350 million in direct state subsidies. Triple Five didn’t even pay anything for the billion-dollar property. They got it for free,” said Tittel. “American Dream/Xanadu has done nothing but suck up money and put environmentally sensitive areas at risk, and the opening just keeps getting delayed.”
Developers also provided more detail on the expected retail lineup for the mall. The 3-million square foot retail and entertainment complex is projected to generate 16,200 “sustainable” jobs on site and 7,000 jobs in surrounding areas. The Canadian-based Triple Five company, which owns the Mall of America, took over the long-stalled project in 2010.
“Malls are dying across the country and investing in this one makes no sense. Even if the American Dream succeeds, it will cause a traffic nightmare. The project will generate more than 150,000 cars a day, gridlocking an area of the state already overburdened with traffic. The site floods, and will end up underwater. Any new jobs created by the mall will be taken from other malls,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “New Jersey certainly does not need another mall, if it ever opens.”