If you’re ever driving up I-95 North around the Meadowlands and want to see what two billion dollars looks like, look no further than the Xanadu shopping and entertainment project. Sitting just off the New Jersey Turnpike, the complex lays just a stone’s throw from MetLife Stadium, where Superbowl XLVIII was recently hosted. But for all the coverage the area received Xanadu never once appeared.
Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, has labeled it, “The ugliest damn building in New Jersey and maybe America.” That might be a little harsh. Xanadu would have to compete with the likes of Boston City Hall and the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington D.C. so it’s not exactly the worst exhibit of architecture in the United States (though we’d definitely put it in our top three).
For residents who live around Xanadu, the complex is an eyesore and a reminder of economic and regulatory failures. Sal Scaravilli, a local resident and owner of Pizza Mia in downtown East Rutherford expressed his frustration to Fox News just before the lights turned on at the Superbowl. “I don’t think anyone who lives here understands why it’s there,” he said, “They should just tear it down. It’s ugly and it doesn’t belong there. It’s a waste of money.”
By fall 2016 the project may look a lot different if developers from Triple Five have their way. Re-titled the American Dream Meadowlands, the complex could become quite the attraction within the next two years. Building off of the thematic foundation of the previous project, developers will focus on building an entertainment and shopping arena to spur economic development.
The complex will feature a 20-story “drop ride,” a 639,000 square foot indoor amusement park and water park, an aquarium featuring more than 10,000 sea creatures, and an 18-hole mini golf course among other projects. The American Dream Meadowlands will also provide contractors an opportunity for employment within the next few months.
Triple Five expects to revamp the exterior from late June until the fall of this year, while other developments will restart next spring. Dirt for the water and amusement park and steel beams for retailers are in the works to be delivered at some point this year. Other developments are currently being planned for the future according to Paul Ghermezian, one of the project executives, but for right now, contractors can look forward to the potential employment opportunities the project will offer over the next few years.