Standing in a building that has remained unchanged and likely to get over $200 million in tax incentives, Gov. Christie ushered in the arrival of the “American Dream” in North Jersey last week. The much-maligned and long-stagnant Xanadu development at the Meadowlands, which Christie called the “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America,” along with everyone else who drives by it, will get a makeover by the Canadian developer who built Mall of America in Minnesota.
Next to the Jets and Giants stadium, with a dead-on view of the Manhattan skyline, the newly minted complex, called American Dream at Meadowlands, will feature high-end shopping, a 26-screen movie theater, nightclubs, a performing arts theater, restaurants, an indoor ice-skating rink, and an indoor ski slope (with moguls and a snowboard half-pipe), according to Triple Five, the developer.
And in a structural addition to the original Xanadu, there will be glass-domed amusement and water parks – with sand and palm trees. Triple Five has been know to do this in Mall of America and other malls across Canada. They design their malls to be places of destination for everything under one roof rather than finding entertainment is several locations.
Reuters reported that Triple Five will be developing the world’s largest and most comprehensive retail, entertainment, amusement, recreation, and tourism project ever built. Not a bad way to help crate jobs and revenue for New Jersey. The economic impact for New Jersey would be $3.8 billion according to Triple Five.
Many might wonder how this will benefit the Jets and Giants. What this will do is add options to fans and families for weekend getaways. So instead of a Sunday of football, there is a weekend of activities. The Jets and Giants could run activities a few days before across the road to get people psyched up for Sunday’s game. Not to mention tie ins and other pregame festivities run by the organizations.
Show up on a Friday night to a local hotel and have dinner at American Dream and do whatever fun activity there is to do. There is something there for every member of the family. On Saturday one can do so much in one location, why go anywhere else? Sunday is football. Those not attending the game will have restaurants to watch the game in, some will shop as other family members attend the game.
The project will get at least $200 million in tax incentives from the state, Christie said at a news conference last Tuesday inside the 2.4 million-square-foot, partially built structure. But he refused to provide more details about the deal his administration worked out with Triple Five. I am sure a lot of those breaks also include some incentives for certain NJ politicians.
The Sierra Club blasted the arrangement, releasing a statement even before the media tour of the facility was over. The environmental group said American Dream, sitting on the most valuable piece of real estate in New Jersey, would end up getting $350 million in tax subsidies once it expands, as it has planned. If NJ is in need of the business, jobs, and revenue, there should be not be given that much tax subsidies, but then again, NJ tax payers do not make those decisions.
Triple Five may want to call this the American Dream, but it is a nightmare to taxpayers that will pick the pockets of us regular New Jersey citizens. It is ludicrous that at a time when many are hurting financially, local governments are broke, and property taxes are rising, that we are subsidizing this monster mall.
According to the Christie administration, the complex will create more than 9,000 construction jobs and 30,000 permanent jobs once it opens. Officials expect between 50 million and 60 million annual visitors, with half of them tourists. Expect big numbers on football weekends as well. I am sure the teams will set up weekend packages with tickets.
Most of American Dream will open in the fall of 2013, in time for the Super Bowl scheduled to be played at the new Meadowlands stadium. One will wonder if American Dreams theater’s will air the Super Bowl to keep patrons there. I am sure screens will air it all over the place to keep people shopping, riding rides, and doing what it takes to keep them there to spend money.
Triple Five plans to invest $1.5 billion atop the $2 billion already spent there, and expand by nearly a third, or one million square feet. The existing structure is well on its way to completion, with extensive aesthetic changes planned. Other essentials – such as escalators and the ski lift – also are in place.
One can only wonder if the expansion will take up more room in the non PSL parking. Will it create trouble for those parking by the Izod Center? Will this expansion do anything to disrupt the tailgating that goes on. No one can tailgate in the parking garage so that is out. Also, with the building through 2013, how will this affect fans parking for Jets and Giants games? We can only wait and see.
The theater at American Dream will have seating for 2,000 to 3,000 people. Screens in the center of the complex will change colors on football game day, depending on whether the Jets or Giants are playing next door. And there are plans to build either a bar or movie theater on an outdoor patio that has spectacular views of New York, about 10 miles to the east.
Most of all, Triple Five vowed to replace the massive multicolored exterior panels, so hated by Christie and most of us here in New Jersey. Driving by it it looks like a rust colored piece of trash. Triple Five plans to give it a more glowing feel so people will be amazed at it look from a distance.
The Jets and Giants have both been waiting for someone to pick it up across the road. With the American Dream coming in, it can only help their overall business from an off the field point of view. It provides more opportunities to hold events. The restaurants, stores, and other facilities might even have events or specials to help draw customers to spend more. Clothing stores will have sales on jets and Giants merchandise so fans can have it in time for the game on Sunday.
I am sure Triple Five has been in touch with the Jets and Giants. To see what opportunities it can provide each other. Not to mention what it can do to help each other make more revenue during the 2014 Super Bowl. Triple Five knew the opportunity and make a calculated decision. The NY teams will have a presence at American Dream. Might even see ESPN do some broadcasting from there at some point.
Once American Dream is completed, New jersey will have a another destination that many will flock to for vacations. We have Atlantic City, the Jersey shore, and now American Dream. Being close to NYC, it creates a good destination for those wanting to visit both. It also provide the Jets and Giants an opportunity to keep fans close for an entire weekend. But how will it benefit them financially? We can only wait and see. Right now, Triple Five & New jersey seem to be the only one set to profit.