NJ Residents Say No State Subsidy for Xanadu Re-Do: Poll

Monday, October 10, 2011

By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, New Jersey voters oppose any state subsidy for the developers trying to finish the long-stalled Xanadu mega-mall that has been re-branded as "American Dream Meadowlands," according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind Poll released Monday.

Pollster Peter Woolley said the opposition cuts across both political parties and geographical boundaries.

"The public's reaction to tax breaks for a private developer in the Meadowlands is completely consistent with its opposition to tax breaks for private developers elsewhere in the state," Woolley said.

Fifty-eight percent of the 800 voters sampled opposed state support while just 31 percent gave it a thumbs up. Woolley said the opposition including both voters who defined themselves as ideologically liberal or conservative.

Governor Chris Christie is backing a plan that could provide as much as $350 million in state-backed financing to help the Triple 5 Company — of Mall of America fame — bring the project back to life.

Triple 5 has also approached Bergen County for another $400 million to jump-start the moribund mall that has sat empty for a few years never having opened, according to the Bergen Record.

During Governor Jim McGreevey's tenure in 2003, the concept of building a mega-shopping and entertainment complex was viewed by state officials as the only viable strategy to keep sports teams like the Nets and Devils in the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority's East Rutherford complex.

(Photo: A concept drawing for the Xanadu/American Dreams Meadowlands mall project.)

Initially, it was the former Mills Corporation that paid the state $160 million for a 15-year lease on the 80 acres in the Sports Complex as the site for Xanadu that was to include more than two million square feet of shops and attractions like a world class Ferris wheel and a 14-story indoor ski dome.

In 2006, the project was taken over by Colony Capital. But just as finishing touches were being put on the mall, the Great Recession hit and prospective tenants backed away and project financing dried up.

Both Triple 5 and the project’s local boosters say that no direct state subsidy is involved. They say the financing is backed by the sales tax revenue that will only be generated if the project is up and operating.

Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he was thrilled when Triple 5 announced their plans to takeover the project.

"They get the entertainment component, they get the destination component,” Kirkos said. “That is what has us so encouraged."

Earlier this year, when asked by WNYC about the Triple 5 deal, Christie was adamant it was the only way to go.

"The state is going to get our money back once the project is successful,” he said. “So I think this is a great deal for New Jersey."

He said that tearing the existing structure down would cost $100 million.


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Comments [6]


Great photo

Oct. 11 2011 05:10 PM
Brad from Hoboken, NJ

Cool to see my photos being used for this story.

Oct. 11 2011 10:06 AM
sajh from Elizabeth

This money would have been better spent on the expanded rail project for the Hudson to reduce commuting times and increase capacity for NJT and Amtrak riders. The resulting increase in property value and developlement with complete government support would have been worth it. Ah, but it didnt have a food court. Ultimately what Christie really wanted...

Oct. 11 2011 09:16 AM
mary e broad from north jersey

this entire project is a fiasco. mall of america wants to put up a billion $ project on the 'if come' and maybe they will make enough to pay off the debt.

this is as bad a deal as there possibly could be, written and agreed to by politicians.

they have no 'skin in the game' and expect to pay the bills by charging for parking (joke).

Oct. 10 2011 09:59 PM
Jane from Morristown

"...once the project is successful." Well, when you're trying sell citizens on another bailout you can't say "if the project is successful" can you?

Oct. 10 2011 06:16 PM
nathan from Hoboken, NJ

I cannot believe more public money is going to this mess. As a NJ tax payer, I would rather is be taken down and call it a lesson learned. We do not need more malls, more sprawl, more mess, more traffic, we need novel ideas.

Oct. 10 2011 09:36 AM

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