A new opening date has been set for the stalled Xanadu entertainment and retail complex in the Meadowlands: fall 2013.
“And we are committed to that,” said Dan Jasper, spokesman for Triple Five, the Canadian conglomerate that was designated the new redeveloper of the 2 million-square-foot project in December, following failed ventures by Mills Corp. and Colony Capital. “There will be a lot of long days between now and 2013.”
The project will be renamed American Dream Meadowlands, Jasper said.
“We see American Dream as an opportunity, and this project presents an opportunity to create jobs — thousands of them — and it presents an opportunity to drive tourism to New Jersey.”
Triple Five’s Mall of America attracts 42 million people a year, but “we believe and are confident American Dream will be drawing 55 million visitors every year,” 40 percent to 50 percent of which will be tourists, he said. The local population surrounding Mall of America “is insignificant” compared to that of New Jersey and New York, he said.
The company also will expand the project to an initial size of three million square feet, including 1.7 million square feet of retail and dining space, said Jasper. The complex will be slightly smaller than the Mall of America, but Jasper said “the American Dream will grow to be the largest (shopping) center in the U.S.”
The expansion will include a glass-domed indoor amusement park, an indoor water park and an aquarium; Triple Five plans to retain the ski slope, performing arts center and 26-screen, 5,000-seat movie theater that already were part of the project plan, he said.
A makeover of the project’s much-derided exterior also is in store, Jasper added. “One thing we’ve heard loud and clear is folks don’t like the exterior, and we agree with them,” he said. “We will be changing the exterior so it has much a better look that blends in with the surrounding community, but also lets it stand out in a good way.”
The developer expects to begin construction after various technical issues are resolved over the next six to nine months, Jasper said.
Jasper declined to provide specifics on the cost or financing of American Dream, saying only that “Triple Five will invest significantly in the project.” But a report in The New York Times said the company plans to invest more than $1 billion in the project, with the state offering the developer $180 million to $200 million in tax-increment financing.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor’s office, said, “We’ll have more to say soon on New Jersey’s role and participation in the future of the project,” but declined to comment further.
E-mail Evelyn Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org