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Vote expected Friday on Meadowlands megamall project

May 17, 2013 5:07:14 AM PDT
A long-delayed megamall project at the Meadowlands sports complex could take another step forward Friday.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is expected to vote on the American Dream project at a special board meeting Friday. The authority has to approve a new master plan for the mall, which Gov. Chris Christie has called "an offense to the eyes" because of its exterior, a mishmash of pastel panels visible from the New Jersey Turnpike.

The new plan includes a Hollywood-themed amusement park and water park, along with about 300 retail stores and high-end dining.

The NFL's Giants and Jets have opposed the mall being open on game days because of traffic concerns. A lawsuit by the teams against developer Triple Five and the sports authority was dismissed last year, but a judge said the teams could refile if the sports authority approves the project.

The teams and Triple Five offered starkly contrasting traffic and parking projections at a contentious hearing last fall, and both sides have been negotiating those issues over the last several months. A spokeswoman for the teams didn't immediately comment on those negotiations Wednesday.

Once known as Xanadu, the mall project dates back 10 years, when the sports authority chose a partnership of the Mills Corporation and Mack-Cali Realty to build it. Originally scheduled to open in 2007, it was plagued by cost overruns and was taken over in 2006 by Colony Capital, which planned the world's largest Ferris wheel among other attractions. In 2009, construction was stopped because financing dried up in the recession. Triple Five took over in 2010.

"Clearly the sports authority thinks it's time to move forward, and we feel it's time to move forward as well," Triple Five spokesman Alan Marcus said Wednesday. "The teams recognize we're going to be a positive neighbor and we're going to give a great experience to everyone who visits."

Even if the sports authority approves the project Friday, the mall won't be completed by February 2014 when adjacent MetLife Stadium hosts the Super Bowl. However, some space might be available to organizers for parties or events even if the rest of the mall isn't finished.


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