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Nickelodeon Universe / American Dream Discussion Thread

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They had better get going on this project. Any more major delays and it won't be ready for the 2014 Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium which will bring this place national attention. Right now the only thing it's known for is being the ugliest building in the history of... ever.


Even NJ Governor Christie called it “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe Ameri­ca”.


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Interesting pitting the environmentalists against the unions. Kind of looks to me that if they can replace the land elsewhere then this should be a go.


Replacing the wetlands elsewhere is the issue. Wetlands serve a purpose. This is a huge development in the middle of the wetlands, where destruction would have effects that are far reaching. They help with flooding and pollution control. Loss of wetlands for this project increases the risk of flooding for that area, and an increase of pollution into the ocean. Building wetlands elsewhere will not help to counteract the loss of wetlands in the meadowlands (and the fact that there are not any other place to add wetlands in the meadowlands either).

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They had better get going on this project. Any more major delays and it won't be ready for the 2014 Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium which will bring this place national attention. Right now the only thing it's known for is being the ugliest building in the history of... ever.


Even NJ Governor Christie called it “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe Ameri­ca”.



It was designed after cargo boats. Of course it's an unholy abomination.


The sad part is I end up driving by there at least once a week. How do you think it feels to have to see that...thing, all the time?


To hell with mother nature, this needs to be cleansed.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Interesting pitting the environmentalists against the unions. Kind of looks to me that if they can replace the land elsewhere then this should be a go.


Replacing the wetlands elsewhere is the issue. Wetlands serve a purpose. This is a huge development in the middle of the wetlands, where destruction would have effects that are far reaching. They help with flooding and pollution control. Loss of wetlands for this project increases the risk of flooding for that area, and an increase of pollution into the ocean. Building wetlands elsewhere will not help to counteract the loss of wetlands in the meadowlands (and the fact that there are not any other place to add wetlands in the meadowlands either).


Sounds like you have already made up your mind.

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  • 3 months later...

Pretty much the same old same old. It's a long article, so I'll summarize as best possible.


*Triple Five has not taken over the site from lenders and their $1.7 Billion loan has not been finalized.


*Triple Five only responded last week to government concerns about building the amusement rides/water rides in protected wetlands.


*These plans, in regards to building on wetlands needs to be approved by a multitude of government agency: Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service


*Meanwhile, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — the landlord for the project — has yet to submit an environmental impact statement that was due in February. That delay means that an advisory report on the proposal from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Meadowlands Commission is past due, also.


*Triple Play stills expects the complex to open in time for the Feb. 2, 2014, Super Bowl at the Meadowlands





Work delayed as American Dream Meadowlands awaits permits

Sunday April 8, 2012, 11:05 PM


The Record


Money isn’t the only thing standing in the way of the long-awaited American Dream Meadowlands project, the $3.7 billion shopping and entertainment complex adjacent to the Izod center. The aspiring developers have yet to obtain a key federal signoff on their plans to add water and amusement parks at the site of the redevelopment once known as Xanadu.


In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote that it would “continue to object” to the proposed expansion until a formal wetlands- mitigation plan is submitted and approved.


A spokesman for Triple Five, the operators of Mall of America in Minnesota and would-be operators of American Dream, said Friday that the company had “within the last 24 to 48 hours” responded to environmental questions as part of a 196-page submission to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps — which later Friday confirmed receipt of the information — has authority over permits involving development that intrudes on U.S. waterways.


“The entire project is very complicated, and there have been a lot of issues to address, but we believe we have now addressed them,” said Alan Marcus, a Little Falls-based public relations and advertising executive on retainer with the developer.


Meanwhile, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — the landlord for the project — has yet to submit an environmental impact statement that was due in February. That delay means that an advisory report on the proposal from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Meadowlands Commission won’t meet an today’s deadline.


John Samerjan, a sports authority spokesman, said that his agency’s report is nearly complete.


“There are some environmental issues that we expect will be resolved soon, and at that point the document will be completed and posted,” Samerjan said.


The delays likely will push resumption of construction on the project, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, beyond the spring time frame that the developers set out late last year.


“It’s frustrating for a lot of people, especially those looking for work, and we share that frustration,” Marcus said. But he added that the timetable of opening most of the original retail and entertainment sections of the project in time for the Feb. 2, 2014, Super Bowl at the Meadowlands remains unchanged.


The lag in closing the deal echoes earlier struggles that have turned the project into the butt of jokes — and stoked skepticism by North Jersey residents who regularly drive past the much-derided multicolored façade near the New Jersey Turnpike. Earlier incarnations of the stalled project were derailed by delays and economic setbacks over the past decade.


So 11 months after an elaborate press conference at the site featuring Governor Christie and an extensive press tour of the interior, Triple Five has yet to take over the site from a group of the project’s major lenders. A new round of financing — totaling $1.7 billion and, for the first time, involving public sources — also has not been finalized.


Christie predicted recently that American Dream would follow in the footsteps of the Revel casino in Atlantic City, another long-stalled multibillion-dollar project that finally opened for business last week.


“I think you’ll see the same kind of progress up north regarding the American Dream project,” he said. “We’re in the final throes of negotiations there.”


Stalled by water park


At issue on the environmental side is Triple Five’s plan for an indoor water and amusement park complex on a 22-acre tract that sits between the New Jersey Turnpike and the existing multicolored project.


Last fall, a subsidiary of Triple Fall applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for the permissions needed to build on 5-plus acres of wetlands that are part of that site.


In her Dec. 21, 2011, letter to the corps, Judith Enck, regional administrator for the EPA, asked whether the new attractions could be placed elsewhere on the site, whether a less intrusive plan could be devised to lessen impact on the wetlands and whether further road improvements might be required near the attractions.


Marcus described such qualms by the EPA as “practically boilerplate” in response to preliminary proposals that have not yet offered detailed mitigation plans.


Chris Mallery, a regulatory officer for the corps, said that American Dream has several options, including buying credits at wetlands mitigation banks — offsite locations where work is being done to restore wetlands. That would result in the preservation of other environmentally sensitive areas in the region to offset the disturbance of wetlands at the American Dream site.


Mallery said that representatives of American Dream have been consulting with the agency over the last several months. But, he noted, because the paperwork had just been submitted, the agency had not yet done a thorough review of the company’s application.


“We know that the proposed work would have an impact on U.S. waters, and the developer needs to do something to make up for that,” Mallery said. “Mitigation plans can be among the most difficult parts of putting together a project in certain areas.”


Wetlands projects such as at American Dream also need a go-ahead from other federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.


Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club and a longtime critic of the Meadowlands project, said that while he originally expected the American Dream permitting process to be concluded by last month, he isn’t too surprised by the delays.


“These things are never as easy as developers think they are on paper,” Tittel said.


The original developer of Xanadu, the Mills Corp., ran into financial trouble in 2005.


Colony Capital took over in late 2006, but work on the project again ground to a halt in March 2009 when promised project financing dried up. A group of lenders for the project took control of the site that summer, but little progress has been made since then.

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  • 2 months later...

This place can't catch break. Now the New York Jets and New York Giants have filed an injunction to halt the construction


Their contention is that 100-200 cars traveling to the park on game days will impede the traffic flow for the 40,000 cars driven by Jets/Giants fans causing safety and convenience issues. But their real gripe seems to be that they want to expand into the retail spaces in the future.




Football officials want water, amusement park stopped

Monday June 25, 2012, 5:37 PM




East Rutherford - The battle between two NFL teams and the developer of a stalled $3.7 billion entertainment complex is heating up.


Giants and Jets officials, concerned with an increase in traffic due to a proposed amusement and water park for American Dream Mall, have filed an injunction to stop construction.


Lawyers for the New York Jets and New York Giants filed an injunction on June 22 aiming to block Triple Five from resuming construction of American Dream Meadowlands-citing traffic impacts from the yet to be approved water park and amusement park portions of the project on game days. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) issued a major access permit to Triple Five on May 9. The permit means the developer does not have to do additional traffic studies for the added portions of the project, since it would only generate just under 200 or more peak time hourly traffic trips than the rest of the project, officials said.


East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella slammed the two teams for being "greedy" and "selfish" and putting their interests ahead of taxpayers.


"American Dream Meadowlands will bring union construction jobs and thousands of retails jobs to people every day of the week, not just on Sundays," Cassella said. "These are many of the same people who pay thousands of dollars to buy Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) for Giants and Jets, just to have the chance to see a game. These are the same people who buy Giants and Jets paraphernalia, and the two teams want to deny them the right to earn a living."


Cassella questioned the teams' allegiance to the state. He noted that the region needs jobs and the state needs the tax revenue. "The Giants and Jets have gotten tax breaks. Now they want more preferential treatment that would deny jobs and millions of dollars in sales tax income. I have never seen corporations act so selfishly. The teams were never concerned about traffic congestion when they were building...now they have traffic problems all of a sudden. This shows a lot about these teams, who refuse to acknowledge New Jersey and continue to throw roadblock. The bottom line is they exploit New Jersey, they have no allegiance to the state."


Complicating matters, the Borough of East Rutherford has been locked in a battle with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), which oversees the sports complex, since 2010, over taxes, and has yet to introduce a 2012 budget. A tax court judge has reserved judgment regarding whether the Giants will have to pay $1.5 million in annual taxes on the $100 million Timex training facility. Currently, the Giants pay $5 million a year ground lease to the NJSEA for the new stadium and Timex facility; and $1.3 million towards Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) fees, a total of $6.3 million. In turn, the NJSEA gives the borough $6.3 million in PILOT fees annually for the entire sports complex. This figure represents approximately 21 percent of the borough's tax revenue.


In response to the injunction filed by lawyers for the two teams, Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan said that she will take steps to review tax breaks given to the two football teams, and that the teams are attempting to create a business monopoly. Donovan said that her administration will explore with East Rutherford officials their ongoing litigation against the NJSEA. She noted that she will also review independent action to require the teams to pay taxes on the sale of Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs). Donovan said that she will consider taking legal action against the tax breaks given to the New York Jets for their training facility in Florham Park, Morris County, as well.


"Since 1976 the Giants and later the Jets have not paid a dime in taxes to Bergen County. Now they have built and own a $1.6 billion building and they still don't pay any taxes to Bergen County. That's wrong and it needs to be corrected," said Donovan.


In addition, Donovan has directed the County Police to take steps to assure the safety of fans arriving and departing MetLife Stadium on game days. Currently, state police patrol the area, but sources say the county will soon take over.


"The New York Giants and New York Jets cite the safety and convenience of their fans as a veiled excuse for their frivolous lawsuit designed to give them a monopoly at the Sports Complex," Donovan said.


In their lawsuit, the New York teams rely on a 'cooperation agreement' which was agreed to, not negotiated, by former (acting) Governor Dick Codey.


"I described that so-called agreement as a give-away then and do so again today," Donovan said. "According to the New York teams, that agreement allows them to hold development rights to build themed dining and team and other stores."


Lawyers for the two teams did not return calls at press time.

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  • 3 weeks later...



The Hollywood studio DreamWorks Animation has struck a deal to bring Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other animated movie characters to a planned amusement park as part of a revived entertainment and retail mall in the New Jersey Meadowlands.


It would be the first theme park based on the studio’s animated movies since DreamWorks’s earlier plans for parks in China, Abu Dhabi and Dubai failed to work out.


DreamWorks has sought to capitalize on the huge popularity of its films, much as Disney and Universal Studios have in the United States, Europe and Asia. The indoor theme park would include rides, attractions and a glass-enclosed wave pool incorporating characters from the studio’s movies.


The partnership between the developer, Triple Five, and DreamWorks is a rare bit of good news for a site that has sat vacant and unfinished since May 2009, when the previous developers ran out of money after spending $1.9 billion on a five-story complex just west of Manhattan, near MetLife Stadium, called Xanadu.


In a statement Tuesday evening, Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, confirmed the deal, saying the theme park would involve the studio’s “characters, storytelling and technology in a unique and innovative family entertainment experience.”


Triple Five, the developer of the Mall of America, has renamed the project American Dream and drawn up plans to make it even bigger, with nearly 1.7 million square feet of retail space, an indoor ski hill, indoor sky diving, bowling, an aquarium, a live theater and the 14.7-acre amusement park.


But the project continues to be dogged by delays. In announcing a tentative agreement between the current owners and Triple Five in May 2011, Gov. Chris Christie said he expected the developer to strike a deal with the owners and get financing for the project by the end of 2011 so that American Dream could be open for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. But executives working with Triple Five now say that $1.75 billion in financing will not be completed until October and that the complex will not open until September 2014, seven months after the Super Bowl.


Triple Five, which is owned by the Ghermezian family, has built two of the world’s largest and most successful entertainment malls. But the company faces special challenges in the Meadowlands, the least of which are the local blue laws that prohibit retail activity on Sundays.


Many retailers say they are reluctant to get involved with the project because of its troubled history. “There were enough false starts that retailers want to see some substance,” said Ron DeLuca, a partner at R. J. Brunelli & Company, which represents a roster of retailers who had signed leases at Xanadu. “Until American Dream becomes a reality,” he said, “it is difficult to get retailers to make hard commitments.”


The Jets and Giants, which both use MetLife Stadium, filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block construction of the project, saying it threatens to “clog the complex’s already congested transportation networks” on game days, when 80,000 fans converge on the stadium.


The State Transportation Department approved the project, however, and Triple Five moved on Tuesday to dismiss the suit.


The deal with DreamWorks provides the project with some Hollywood cachet and underscores Triple Five’s emphasis on entertainment.


Entertainment conglomerates like DreamWorks say they view theme parks as a way to expand revenues for an industry buffeted by piracy, flagging DVD sales and a drop in network television viewers.


The theme park industry is slow growing in North America, said John Robinett, senior vice president of economics for the Themed Entertainment Association, although the recent creation of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios in Florida and a $1 billion makeover tied to “Cars” characters at Disney’s California Adventure park in Los Angeles have raised attendance substantially.


Triple Five is hoping DreamWorks can do the same in the Meadowlands, where it says it hopes to attract 55 million visitors annually. But that may be easier in Minnesota or West Edmonton, Canada, where Triple Five already operates.


“Not only does northern New Jersey not lack for shopping malls; there are a lot of destination attractions,” said David L. Malmouth, a developer in San Diego and a former Disney executive. “Manhattan is a pretty compelling theme park in its own right.”

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^Tennessee is still ripe with these blue laws. You can't buy liquor on Sunday and you can't serve alcohol so many feet from a church for example.


The no retail activity law those is way extreme/insane though.

Edited by ernierocker
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^I excpect that in the South. I have friends who live in Jackson County, NC, which I think ceased to be a "dry county" just a few years ago. It's just so odd to see it in Jersey.

Edited by cfc
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  • 4 months later...



The long-dormant American Dream Meadowlands project is on the verge of receiving final environmental approvals for its proposed indoor water and amusement parks, a federal environmental official said Thursday.


The addition of the parks is seen by executives for project developer Triple Five as crucial to turning the entertainment and retail project into a successful tourist destination.


Still standing in the way of revival of a development that was first approved by the state in 2003 are two seemingly daunting obstacles: a legal challenge by the Giants and Jets over concerns about game-day gridlock at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and securing a $2 billion public/private financing package to complete the project.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Kenneth Wells said that an "initial preferred permit" had recently been sent to would-be developer Triple Five, and that the federal agency was simply waiting for the developer to review and sign the permit.


"The permitting is literally almost done, so that part is behind us," said Wayne Hasenbalg, the president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the landlord of the sports complex.


The Giants and Jets filed suit against the American Dream developers in June, saying the added water and amusement parks created a vastly different project plan from the one the teams had approved in 2006. While the retail section of the project is expected to be closed on Sundays due to the Bergen County blue laws, the teams say that the water and amusement parks will attract thousands of additional visitors on football Sundays.


At a sports authority meeting held at The Meadowlands Racetrack in October, the Giants and Jets presented a traffic study estimating that an additional 7,700 cars would be on the sports complex roads in the first hour following the end of a typical Sunday 1 p.m. game. About 20,000 to 25,000 cars typically park at the sports complex for football games.


But Triple Five's traffic study instead concluded that the parks would add only 63 more cars at the complex at that hour, as local residents would be wise enough to avoid the grounds at that time and most tourists would take the rail link to the MetLife Stadium site rather than drive.


Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne dismissed the main portion of the teams' lawsuit in August because he said that it was filed prematurely. Doyne said the Giants and Jets can refile should the sports authority board approve a final version of the master plan that was unacceptable to the teams.


Hasenbalg said that his staff has had "a lot of back and forth" discussions with both Triple Five and the two National Football League teams in recent weeks.


"We hope to achieve some level of compromise that would allow us to avoid going back to court," Hasenbalg said. "If you go back there, you're potentially talking about a lot of discovery, and that can take a lot of time. I'm still optimistic."


Hasenbalg said that the sports authority "is nearing the conclusion, hopefully in the very near future" of evaluating the traffic studies and other analysis submitted by the teams and by the developers. But he would not comment on whether the agency's board would be asked to vote on Triple Five's revised master plan at next week's board meeting.


Governor Christie has expressed enthusiastic support for the project. He backs the notion of allowing American Dream to qualify for up to a $400 million reduction in the total amount of state taxes paid over a span of up to 20 years.


Triple Five spokesman Alan Marcus said that "we make progress every day on this project" while declining to offer specifics. Giants and Jets spokeswoman Karen Kessler also did not offer a comment.

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In other words: the Giants and Jets want money for the developer. I'm sure they'll come to some sort of settlement. I also agree with the train comment in the article: when myself & Dan visited for the USC/Syracuse game, we took the train everywhere (including to the game).

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At a gala press conference in May 2011, Governor Christie introduced a new team of developers who would take over the moribund project once known as Meadowlands Xanadu, and said that their expanded version of the shopping and entertainment complex would be open in time for the February 2014 Super Bowl to be held at MetLife Stadium.


Just six months later, though, an executive with the developer, Triple Five, said such a timetable would be “no easy task” — and months after that, that schedule was officially scrapped. It was just another in a seemingly endless series of delayed debuts for a project that has gone on for a decade, eaten through billions of dollars, and is not yet close to completion.


Then late last month, Christie stood before an admiring crowd of unionized laborers and predicted that the project, now called American Dream Meadowlands, would be revived this month.


“Here I’m looking at the men and women who are going to take that thing and turn it from ugly and into a job machine for the men and women of New Jersey,” Christie said, after securing their union’s endorsement in his bid for reelection this year.


In the past decade, officials have predicted nearly a dozen different opening dates for the project, starting with 2005. The arrival of 2013 marks a third consecutive New Year’s Day with the dormant project — and its much-reviled exterior — standing as a garish symbol of a stagnant economy


Since new developer Triple Five appeared on the scene publicly in mid-2011, there has been progress on permitting and repeated indications of an imminent financial deal with the state. But to date, no formal contract has been struck that binds the state and the developer to each other.


But this time, it looks as if a project that has spanned the administrations of four governors might finally be moving toward a finish line after all.


A resumption of construction at the site in the Meadowlands Sports Complex would be a significant boost to the economy of the state, according to James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.


“In the short term, the construction industry desperately needs jobs, and that project would provide a major infusion of dollars from salary, wages, income,” Hughes said. “It’s sorely needed in that regard. If it were to be successful, that would be a big deal.”


If American Dream lives up to its billing, it would add an international destination to the landscape of North Jersey — a sprawling shopping and recreation venue sitting just miles from midtown Manhattan.


Triple Five estimates that a completion of the project would yield more than 9,000 on-site construction jobs and another 10,000 jobs via suppliers and other off-site partners, according to paperwork it filed with the state.


More than 11,000 permanent jobs would be created, the officials estimated — at the 200 or more planned shops and at the recreation components, including indoor amusement and water parks Triple Five wants to add to the site.


Christie’s is not the only voice predicting an imminent revival of American Dream.


Jon F. Hanson — a former chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority whom Christie entrusted to help close the deal — is usually far more measured in his tone than the governor. But Hanson, too, says change is at hand.


“It is also my understanding that we could commence construction in January,” Hanson said recently. “We are all anxious to see everyone come back to work.”


Neither Christie nor Hanson offered explanations for their optimism, but it appears to be contagious.


Anthony Scardino of Lyndhurst, a longtime sports authority board member and former state Meadowlands Commission executive director, said recently: “It’s definitely going to happen. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been.”


And on Thursday, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he believed a revival was in the offing. “The governor told me that he expects it pretty much any day, and I believe him,” the Camden County Democrat told The Record’s Editorial Board.


Despite the recent buzz about a looming restart to the project, details about the contract between American Dream and the state have been scarce as both the developer and public officials have remained tight-lipped. It is not known, for instance, if the financing structure currently under discussion varies from the broad outlines laid out by the developer over a year ago.


‘I hope it happens’


But even staunch supporters of the project have become resigned to delays.


State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, said that American Dream has been stalled for so long that he doesn’t even think about it much anymore.


“I hope it happens because of all the jobs at stake, but there still seem to be a lot of obstacles still,” Sarlo said. “You’ve got a large public financing package involved, and we don’t know what the details are.”


Jim Kirkos, the president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he remains optimistic that American Dream will move forward, even if it happens at a slower pace than he would have liked.


“For them not to be open in time for the Super Bowl is a great disappointment for guys like me who wanted to showcase everything Meadowlands while the Super Bowl is in town,” Kirkos said. “But ultimately, American Dream is about changing the game forever, and not just when the big game is here.”


In at least one instance, the delays have caused problems that go beyond mere disappointment. Officials in East Rutherford are blaming a recent tax increase — an average of $300 per taxpayer — partly on additional police salaries and other expenses incurred as a result of relying on promised opening dates that came and went.


East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella said that he believes the payments in lieu of taxes paid by the owners of the project to the borough — which under the current agreement would ultimately reach nearly $10 million a year — make American Dream a good deal for residents. But he added that there is resentment in town over American Dream’s part in the recent property-tax hike.


“We try to be a good soldier, but nobody seems to want to work with us until they need something — and then we’re the old pal being asked to do this, or do that,” Cassella said, adding that any collaboration with Triple Five in a financing deal could run into some resistance from the Borough Council.


Financing plans


In late 2011, the developer met with the Editorial Board of The Record and laid out how it planned to come up with the $1.8 billion it said was needed to complete the project, which has already cost two failed developers and their investors nearly $2 billion.


Triple Five would put in $200 million in equity, with another $800 million from the private sector and $800 million via two public entities.


Hundreds of millions would come from public bonds backed with future payments in lieu of taxes paid to East Rutherford by the developer. Triple Five executive Tony Armlin said the borough or any other public entity that issued the bonds would incur no risk by doing so.


And American Dream developers could be entitled to almost $400 million from the state Economic Development Authority, through a program that allows developers to pay just one-fourth of their sales and corporate business taxes until they have recouped 20 percent of the cost of the new development.


The project, adjacent to the Izod Center, has been virtually dormant since a key lender pulled its financing in March 2009. That halt followed years of delays and the collapse of original developer Mills Corp. in 2006. Creditors took the keys from the second developer, Colony Capital, in mid-2010, and still retain that control today.


Triple Five, which has promised to make over the exterior, has received environmental and other permits to add a 638,000-square-foot indoor amusement and water park to the complex. Last summer it also announced a partnership with DreamWorks Animation that would bring movie characters such as Shrek and Kung Fu Panda to the site.


There are a lot of things that have to happen for the project to get back in full swing.


With American Dream’s environmental permitting approvals finally wrapping up, sports authority president Wayne Hasenbalg said the next step is for his board to give final approval to a revised master plan that includes the amusement and water park. He said that approval could come at the next board meeting on Jan. 17.


The project also faces a formidable obstacle in the form of legal action that could be filed by the Jets and Giants, the owners of the neighboring MetLife Stadium. The teams sued in June to stop the project over game-day concerns, only to be told by a Superior Court judge to come back to court if they were dissatisfied with the terms of the board’s final approval. Hasenbalg said state officials have been in talks with representatives of the teams to try to negotiate a compromise.


Triple Five and the NFL teams have declined to comment on the status of the project or a possible deal. But even if agreements and financing are imminent, all parties acknowledge that it is too late for a remodeled American Dream to be open in time for the Jersey Super Bowl.


Triple 5’s financing package would also need to be finalized, and approvals won from the involved public agencies. Hasselbalg said that appears to be nearly in place.


Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that Christie — riding a wave of popularity for his performance in November in the wake of the damage caused by superstorm Sandy — should not expect the status of American Dream to be at the forefront of a re-election campaign.


“Statewide, there isn’t that much awareness of the impact of it either way,” Murray said. “And even the people who drive by it probably hardly notice it anymore, even with the garish colors.”


Murray also said that the Xanadu/American Dream saga has lasted so long that its faults and controversies “can’t be laid on anyone’s doorstep.”


A moving target


Construction work on the project once know as Meadowlands Xanadu began nearly a decade ago, but has been at a halt since 2009. Here’s a look at key dates offered by various developers and state officials over the life of the entertainment and retail project at the Sports Complex in East Rutherford.


February 2003 — The Sports Authority board approves the Mills Co.’s $1.3 billion plan for the redevelopment of the sports complex arena site. Projected opening: Sometime in 2005.


October 2004 — Outgoing Gov. James McGreevey signs a 75-year ground lease with Mills. Projected opening: “Should be complete in about two years,” the governor’s office says.


August 2005 — After the Giants go to Superior Court in Bergen County seeking to prevent Xanadu from being open on game days, Xanadu officials express “shock” at the legal maneuver. Projected opening: “Late 2007,” the company says.


November 2006 — Colony Capital, a private investment firm, takes the reins from struggling Mills and promises a capital influx of an additional $1.5 billion to complete the project. Projected opening: “Late 2008,” according to a Colony Capital press release.


May 2008 — Officials blame “complex construction for several unique tenants” for another delay. Projected opening: Midsummer 2009.


March 2009 — Sports authority Chairman Carl Goldberg sets out a new timetable. Projected opening: “March or April 2010.”


April 2009 — Officials announce that construction of a 286-foot “Pepsi Globe” Ferris wheel is on hold. Projected opening: Not before August 2010.


July 2010 — With Colony Capital fading from the scene, Jon F. Hanson, a key adviser to Governor Christie, recommends a makeover of the exterior, as well as state-issued tax-exempt bonds to help make the project appealing to new potential investors. Projected opening: 2012.


May 2011 — Christie holds a lavish press conference announcing that Triple Five, the operators of the Mall of America in Minnesota, was taking over at the site. Projected opening: “Late 2013,” according to Triple Five Vice President Paul Ghermezian. That would have been before the February 2014 Super Bowl at neighboring MetLife Stadium.


November 2011 — Triple Five executive Tony Armlin tells The Record’s Editorial Board that he hopes to submit an application for a tax break of up to $400 million dollars to the state “by December or January.” Construction could resume as soon as spring 2012. Projection: Armlin says opening before the Super Bowl would be “no easy task.”


February 2012 —Wayne Hasenbalg, the new president of the sports authority, says the indoor water and amusement parks Triple Five wants to add to the site are critical to the company’s plans to lure tourists. Projection: Those elements will not be ready in time for the Super Bowl.


March 2012 — Christie, in Atlantic City celebrating the opening of the $2.4 billion Revel casino, declares that negotiations between the state and Triple Five were “in the final throes.” Projection: Construction would soon resume.


June 2012 — Projection: A Triple Five spokesman acknowledges that no part of the project will be open in time for the Super Bowl.


December 2012 — Christie addresses a crowd of unionized laborers. Projection: Work will resume on the project in January 2013, the governor says.


Artist rendering of the newly revived American Dream Meadowlands project from developer Triple Five.

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  • 1 year later...

I came across this recently on Facebook:


Ghermezian Brothers Reach Transit & Road Improvement Agreements For American Dream Mall : NFL Teams Drop Objections


Last September the Ghermezian brothers from Edmonton, Canada took ownership of a partially completed, but empty and basically derelict, mega-mall outside Rutherford New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan.


Last week they inked two complicated, but important, agreements that remove the last barriers to starting construction, so they can finally finish the mall.


The goal of the Ghermezian’s company Triple Five is to restore, complete and substantially improve the original concept for the mall, which had been a major casualty of the 2008 recession, and to make it one of the finest destination malls anywhere in the world. The name of the reconceived mall will be American Dream Meadowlands Mall.


It will have 5 million square feet of rentable space when it is finished, with its own indoor skating rink, indoor ski hill and even a large performing arts centre for lavish entertainment programs. Dreamworks will brand an amusement park and water attraction at the mall as well.


However the new mall is located right beside the Meadowlands Sports Complex, with its MetLife branded football stadium, which is home to both the New York Jets and the New York Giants NFL teams. They have not been happy with the proximity of the new mall, and especially of the additional amusement park now added to the concept, and have worried that the impact of all the traffic on game days might seriously deter its sports fans from coming.


Even though existing local shopping laws would restrict retail parts of the mall from opening on Sundays, these would not apply to the amusement park itself. Also one can well imagine that if the mall becomes a great success, pressures will build to permit eventual Sunday opening as well – which would certainly be the “thin edge of the wedge” for the two football teams therefore.

After a lengthy game of hardball over who pays, the New Jersey Transit and the State Turnpike Authority have agreed to improve access to and from the Meadowlands Sports Complex as part of a deal reached earlier this week between the Giants and Jets, and Triple Five, the developer of the American Dream project, to withdraw their objections to the mall.


Already last November the State of New Jersey approved a package of state tax breaks totaling US$390 million to support the new project. Then in December the Borough Council of the town of East Rutherford approved the elements of a deal after which the town will have the authority to issue US$550 million of municipal bonds to help pay for it as well.


So with the transportation agreement now in place everything now looks good to go.


Triple five’s two existing mega-malls, one in Edmonton and one in Minneapolis, each already get 70 million visitors a year and this new third one, now renamed American Dream Meadowlands, will become America’s largest shopping centre when it is finished.


There is already a rapid train service direct to Meadowlands from Manhattan with its own station at Medowlands. There will now be a major upgrading of train service, and improvements will be made to road access to and from the turnpike,.


Accordingly the Ghermezians will undoubtedly seek to bring boatloads of visitors from New York over to their new destination mall, both to shop and to be entertained.


Garth Drabinsky, the famous live theatre impresario who produced Phantom of the Opera and many other famous shows before spending some time in jail for fraud, is already unofficially said to be consulting for the Ghermezians on creating the new live theatre in the mall as a world class venue, and one capable of competing head on with Broadway.

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Here is the latest article on the American Dream Complex. I have summarized the key findings in the article.


1 - The developer has reached an agreement with the unions to restart the project

2 - The lawsuit between the Jets/Giants football teams was settles out of court and the complex will be allowed to operate on days when those NFL Teams play at home.

3 - The complex is expected to open in fall of 2016 with the waterpark and a Hollywood themed amusement park. At least it sounds like the parks will open at the same time.




American Dream megamall project renewed in New Jersey

April 28, 2014 06:06 PM


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The developer of a megamall at the Meadowlands sports complex signed a union agreement Monday to jumpstart work on the long-delayed project, then addressed the question on the minds of anyone who has driven past the pastel-hued monstrosity: Will something be done about the exterior Gov. Chris Christie said made the complex "the ugliest damn building in New Jersey and maybe America"?


The governor "was far from alone," said Paul Ghermezian, senior vice president for mall developer Triple Five.


"It's no secret the facade is ugly," Ghermezian said to chuckles from the audience made up mostly of union workers. "We got your tweets, we got your emails, some people managed to get my cell number and texted me directly."


Triple Five, which counts among its properties the Mall of America in Minnesota, recently gained approval from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for a revamped exterior that replaces the odd mishmash of colored panels with a cleaner design that emphasizes an outdoor look, Ghermezian said. In some areas the complex will feature 80-foot-high glass exteriors.


The $2 billion project featuring a waterpark, Hollywood-themed amusement park, retail and dining is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016 and is projected to create 9,000 to 10,000 construction jobs, according to Rick Sabato, head of the Bergen County Building and Construction Trades Council.


"I'm glad we have been able to work through what has been a really long, arduous and at time maddening process to get to this day," Christie said. "But it's all about the result, and the result is going to be good for the working men and women of New Jersey."


Jettisoning the quirky exterior will symbolize a new phase for a project that was approved more than 10 years ago but fell prey to the economic downturn and problems with various developers. Originally known as Xanadu, it was scheduled to open in 2007 but languished for years, partially built, until Triple Five took it over at the end of 2010.


From there it hit more roadblocks. The New York Jets and New York Giants, owners of adjacent MetLife Stadium, sued the developer in 2012, claiming Triple Five didn't get their permission - as required under an earlier agreement - to expand the footprint for the mall from its original design. They also sought to have the mall closed on game days to avoid traffic backups.


Triple Five countersued, accusing the teams of engaging in an illegal campaign to stop the project from being completed.


The parties announced a settlement last month but didn't provide specific details. Tony Armlin, Triple Five's vice president for development and construction, said Monday the complex definitely will be on open on game days thanks to a new traffic-management and parking plan.


No representatives of the teams were introduced or mentioned at the news conference, and a spokeswoman for the teams didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

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  • 7 months later...

Looks like work had restarted over the Summer and they are aiming for opening it in Fall 2016.


Mega-mall developers dreaming of 2016 opening


By Holly Dutton

New Jersey’s American Dream is still on its way to coming true.


The mega-mall entertainment and shopping complex known as American Dream at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ, is making progress and still anticipating a Fall 2016 opening.


The infamous façade of the building, visible from the New Jersey Turnpike, which NJ governor Chris Christie famously referred to as “the ugliest mall in New Jersey, and maybe America” will soon look much different.


“It is in the process of being changed right now,” said Alan Marcus, a spokesperson for American Dream developer, Triple Five. “There’s a great deal of work going on inside the building as well as on the side of the waterpark and the amusement park.”


Triple Five has been tight-lipped about retailers that have signed with the mall, and would not comment on any aspect of lease negotiations, including rents.


The did say, however, that there has been an “incredible amount of interest” in the entertainment and retail sectors.


“There was a meeting where someone said, ‘Where are we going to fit everyone?’” said Marcus. “It’s very exciting. I’m shocked by the amount of interest.”


The $2 billion years-in-the-making mega-complex is being developed by the family-owned development firm responsible for the Mall of America in Minnesota, and West Edmonton Mall in Canada, which have been open for 20 and 30 years, respectively.

reveal their names.


The demand for retail space at the mall was so high that developers added more retail space to the project, said Ghermezian.


American Dream is slated to have nearly 1.7 million s/f of retail space, 1.1 million s/f of attractions and 150,000 s/f of fine dining and restaurants. Main attractions will include a 639,000 s/f amusement park and waterpark, the world’s tallest “drop ride,” an observation wheel with views of Manhattan, an aquarium, an indoor ski slope and ice rinks, a miniature golf course, a performing arts center, and 400 stores and restaurants.


Ghermezian and his team at Triple Five are spearheading the leasing for American Dream and working with “outside consultantsˮ that include Sinvin, Cushman and Wakefield and RKF.


It has been rumored that brokers and retailers working on American Dream leases have been obliged to sign secrecy clauses that will allow the developer alone to announce any openings.


Developers are projecting 40 million annual visitors to the mega-shopping and entertainment center once it is finally up and running, and the project is expected to generate more than 9,000 jobs, according to Rick Sabato, head of the Bergen County Building and Construction Trades Council.


Triple Five took over what was previously called the Xanadu project in 2010 and workers finally returned to the site this summer after signing a Project Labor Agreement in April.


Until the mall developer took over, the project had fumbled its way through three governors and $2 billion before stalling in 2009.

World's tallest drop ride? I have a feeling tallest indoor drop ride might be it as this piece of concept art shows a tall extrusion to part of the indoor amusement park area (but it is concept art though so it might not be true). Glad to hear it is moving again.

Triple Five

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I'm really glad to see this coming to fruition! I remember seeing that ugly orange facade years back wondering what would ever happen to the building, and now that it is being transformed, I'm incredibly excited. The place will be packed year round as it is just outside of NYC. It's like MOA on steroids and I love it!

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  • 7 months later...

I know this has been out of the news recently, but last month work started again on this project after re-financing and muddling through some more bureaucracy. Projected opening is now 2017.




State approves East Rutherford's amended Triple Five agreement; parks' foundation progressing

June 18, 2015 By Kelly Nicholaides



The state Local Finance Board approved on June 10 East Rutherford’s amended $125 million change in the financial agreement with developer Triple Five, but it’s unclear whether the borough will have a second reading ordinance on the June 16 meeting agenda to approve the change — which increases the bonds from $550 million to up to $675 million and adds the option of taxable or non-taxable bonds.


Mayor James Cassella said the vote would likely happen in July,


At issue will be whether Triple Five chooses taxable or non-taxable Redevelopment Area Bonds, and corresponding insurance policy to protect the borough from lawsuits by bond holders in case American Dream Meadowlands project fails. Elected officials have been asking for an insurance policy since early 2014. Mayor Cassella said the borough is better off issuing taxable bonds because it takes the burden off of East Rutherford to file complex financial documents every year with regard to post bond-issuance issues, and it would be a big savings for Triple Five.


"Getting insurance for taxable bonds costs considerably less," said Cassella. "Tax exempt bonds cost a lot more to insure, and so it would be a huge saving for Triple Five to choose the taxable bonds, because it’s nowhere near as close to the insurance costs. We’re talking tens of thousands for the taxable bonds and maybe into the millions for non-taxable," said Cassella.


The financial agreement amendment began on May 19 when the governing body introduced an ordinance, 4-3, amending the agreement with Triple Five to raise the bond amount from $550 million to $675 million and provide the option of non-taxable as well as taxable Redevelopment Area Bonds (RABs). Councilmen George Perry, Joel Brizzi, and Michael Homaychak voted yes, and Councilmen Saverio Stallone, Ed Ravettine, and Jeff Lahullier voted no, with Cassella breaking the tie with his yes vote during the May 19 vote. That amended agreement was approved by the state on June 10.


The governing body also voted 4-2 on May 19 to introduce an ordinance to secure the bonds and authorize the execution of the financial agreement for Payments in Lieu of Taxes, with Councilmen Saverio Stallone and Ed Ravettine voting no. The financial agreement has yet to be revealed, and would involve Triple Five using Payment in Lieu of Taxes monies to pay back the bonds. Previous figures in the Financial Agreement discussed in public sessions calls for Triple Five paying $20 million for the new police and court building constructed in anticipation of the project, and approximately $160 million in PILOTs over the course of 20 years, $1 million up front, and a sewerage agreement, officials said.


Triple Five spokesperson Tony Armlin said that the developer will opt for the taxable bond option, and have the alternative, non-taxable bonds choice available. "Our preference is taxable bonds. It’s much better approach for simplicity of execution and structure. It’s less expensive too because the sales transactions cost less. It’s an option that wasn’t really available a few years ago because there wasn’t a market," Armlin explained.


Triple Five has invested $150 million on 23,000 tons of steel and $100 million on 7,000 piles for the foundation, and concrete for the amusement and water parks.


"The project is progressing significantly. Once the framework is in place, there’s opportunity for more work on the exterior, interior and all the electric, drywall, structural work inside. "For the balance of summer we’ll be working on pile caps, and should have structural steel fabricated and received by September, for erection by October," Armlin said.


East Rutherford elected officials have been trying to finalize financial details for two years since Triple Five took over the project, which had already approximately $1.3 million invested from Mills in the ill-fated Xanadu mall. Rebranded by Triple Five in 2010, the American Dream Meadowlands plan calls for an indoor water park and amusement park, retail and entertainment. The construction would help some of the 300,000 union building trade members in New Jersey, with 3,000 in the IBEW Local 164 electricians alone, and is expected to bring up to 2,000 workers on site by 2016 — with a new target date of opening as 2017.


Triple Five needs up to $2.5 billion in financing to complete American Dream Meadowlands, through a complex funding combination of bonds, a portion of sales tax and PILOTs and state Economic Development funding. The plan is for Triple Five to make PILOT payments to East Rutherford, under the RAB law, whereby the financial agreement together with the PILOTs paid will secure non-recourse RABs. "Proceeds will be used to make disbursements to the developer for project costs, pay the borough a sum certain to retire outstanding debt of the borough related to the project and fund borough purposes, establish reserves, if any, under an indenture of trust by and between the borough and a financial institution, acting as trustee for the RAB owners and pay costs of issuance for RABs," the ordinance reads.

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