American Dream Meadowlands

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American Dream Meadowlands
American Dream Meadowlands logo.jpg
Location Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Opening date Unknown
Owner Triple Five Group
No. of stores and services 500+
No. of anchor tenants 6
Total retail floor area 4,800,000 sq ft (450,000 m2)
No. of floors 5
Parking 30,000+ spaces (11,450 walkup, 20,000 overflow, 3 parking garages)
American Dream seen from across the Hackensack River in Secaucus, NJ.

American Dream Meadowlands (ADM) is a stalled retail and entertainment complex under construction in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey that will contain over 500 stores.[1] It was first proposed in 2003 by the Mills Corporation as the Meadowlands Xanadu. After the bankruptcy of that company in 2007, the project was taken over by Colony Capital. In May 2009, construction stalled due to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. The Triple Five Group announced intent to take over the mall in May 2011, and on July 31, 2013, officially gained control of the mall and the surrounding site.[2]

After a series of hand-offs, financing issues, construction delays, and legal challenges, the mall is currently anticipated to open in mid-2018.[3] The mall is expected to have about 450 stores and a wide variety of entertainment, including multiple indoor theme parks.[4]


The exterior of the indoor ski slope.

The project started in July 2002 with a request for proposal issued by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for a project to be built adjacent to the (then-named) Continental Airlines Arena.[5] In February 2003, the authority's board chose a joint venture between the former Mills Corporation and the Mack-Cali realty corporation, in partnership with the Sports Complex's owner, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The project was selected over alternatives proposed by Westfield and Hartz Mountain Industries.[5]

The project was billed by Mills chairman and executive officer Laurence E. Siegel as "...a new standard for bringing lifestyle, recreation, sports and family entertainment offerings together in one location."[6] Ground was broken on the complex on September 29, 2004,[7] and, at the time, was expected to open two years later.[8]

In November 2006, Colony Capital took control of the project from Mills Corp and pushed the projected opening to 2008.[5][4]

The former logo of the complex.

In May 2009, construction on Xanadu, which was nearly 80% complete[9] (and whose common areas were about 88% complete), came to a halt after a subsidiary of bankrupt Lehman Brothers missed payments, causing other lenders to withdraw from the project, and lost $500 million worth of construction funding. While developers stated the mall was 70% leased,[10] it is unknown how many retailers stayed leased while the mall was delayed. In August 2009, Cabela's, a major anchor, announced that it did not plan to open its Meadowlands location until late 2010.[11] Around the same time, the complex's website was relaunched with the new Xanadu Meadowlands name.

In 2010, Stephen Ross, owner of The Related Companies in Manhattan, stated that he could finish the project by the end of 2010, possibly with a new name and look.[12] In May 2010, the NJSEA handed the project over to the Related Companies, and the "Xanadu" name had been dropped, changing the name to "The Meadowlands".[13]

On August 10, 2010, Colony Capital surrendered control of the development of the mall to five lenders. A special governor's commission on the state's gaming and entertainment industry is filed recommendations to Governor of New Jersey. Four parties were noted to be interested in redeveloping the project.[14] The Wall Street Journal on December 24, 2010, reported that Triple Five Group signed a letter of intent to invest in and finish the stalled mall.[15] Triple Five proposed that the mall be expanded to include indoor amusement and water parks. Developers cut a deal with Deutsche Bank to provide an approximately $700 million loan to finish the project.[9]

The complex seen from the Meadowlands Sheraton.

On February 1, 2011, after a record-breaking month of snow for the area,[16] a 50 to 60-foot long section of the eastern wall had buckled and a horizontal crease was apparent on the complex's indoor ski slope. Two days later, on February 3, after workers were attempting to melt snow from the ski slope's roof, ice build-up caused the eastern wall to fail and suffer a partial collapse along an approximately 150-foot (50 m) length of roof.[17] Michael Beckerman, a spokesman for the project’s lending group stated, "the Lender Group is aware of the damage to the roof caused by excessive snow and ice, but does not feel the damage affects the integrity of the structure. As such, the group has filed an insurance claim, and once the weather turns warmer, it will assess the damages and fix whatever is necessary."[18]

On April 29, 2011, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority completed a deal with Triple Five Group, which currently owns two of North America's largest malls—West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America.[4] Triple Five assumed ownership of the Meadowlands Mall and renamed it to "American Dream Meadowlands", with an opening date of Autumn 2013, months before Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, just across the highway. The deal was officially announced on May 3, 2011, and it was announced Triple Five had secured land across the highway from the mall to construct a domed theme park based on DreamWorks Animation and water park, opening in early 2014.[19][20]

The mall was delayed further by financing, permitting, and a lawsuit filed by the New York Giants and New York Jets over traffic concerns.[21] Triple Five officially took ownership of the mall on July 31, 2013, with construction set to start in late August of that year, despite the Giants and Jets' lawsuit.[2] Construction officially began in November and the developer estimated it would take approximately 24 months to complete the project.[22]

On March 13, 2014 the Triple Five Group announced a settlement was reached with the New York Giants and New York Jets allowing the long-delayed project to move forward. Construction has been ongoing since November 2013 and was expected to pick up in early 2014. Although no timetable for completion was announced, the developer originally said it would take about 24 months to complete the project once construction began.[22] That April, Triple Five released a revised design for the mall's exterior and confirmed a tentative opening date in late 2016.[23]

In December 2014, the project was scheduled to partially open by Fall of 2016.[24]

In June 2015, the New Jersey Local Finance Board approved a tax-sharing plan between East Rutherford and Triple Five. In August 2015, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority reauthorized a $390 million potential tax break for the project. These steps were intended to set the stage for a sale of up to $1 billion in government bonds to raise money to complete the project in time for its new projected completion in the second half of 2017.[5]

In April 2016, a planned bond issue fell through.[25] In July 2016, construction appeared to have stopped, the developers were trying to obtain $1 billion in additional financing, and the projected completion date had slipped again, to 2018.[26] In August 2016, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority announced an $800 million bond issue intended to finance further construction of the mall.[27]

In September 2016, the Triple Five Group announced that a Nickelodeon Universe amusement park would fill the indoor amusement park space.[28]

On December 22, 2016, work on the project stopped again. Financing from the 2016 bond issue has been delayed to 2017.[29]


The exterior of the project, which is visible from the New Jersey Turnpike and New Jersey Route 3, is a combination of aluminum composite and aluminum siding, of various colors including turquoise, red, yellow, and green. The north end of the building consists of the indoor ski slope. Most politicians and the public have equally criticized the building's appearance calling it "The ugliest building in New Jersey".[30][31] Former Acting New Jersey Governor Richard Codey was quoted in the New York Times as calling the structure "yucky-looking".[32] Although the facility has been renamed, Governor Chris Christie is on record as saying it's “an offense to the eyes as you drive up the turnpike" and that “It’s by far the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.”[33] The exterior will be repainted in a different color scheme as part of Triple Five's ownership.[34]

Main attractions[edit]

One of the complex's parking garages.

Publicity materials for the project claim that the complex, if and when opened, will contain the following features.

Pepsi Globe[edit]

Announced in February 2008, the Pepsi Globe, a 287 ft (87 m) tall giant Ferris wheel with 26 passenger capsules, was to be constructed facing the NJ Turnpike and originally expected to open in 2009.[35][36]



  • 6 "anchor" retail tenants with 50,000+ square feet each
  • 12 "major" retailers (20,000 to 50,000 square feet each)
  • 339 small shops (up to 20,000 square feet)
  • 21 restaurants
  • 45 specialty food retailers
  • 20 food court, including a kosher food court[41]
  • 5 kiosks[42]

Concerns and controversy[edit]

The mall under construction, with MetLife Stadium under construction as well, as seen from an airplane on April 19, 2008.

From traffic concerns to environmental concerns, there are many who have opposed the idea of building a permanent shopping center within the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The project is being built on state-owned land, as the NJSEA is a state agency, and $81.3 million was spent on transportation improvements such as new off and on ramps and a train station at the Sports Complex.[32] Some have also called the mall a "colossal real estate nightmare"[43] and "perhaps the worst retail failure ever".[44]

The New York Giants had proposed that the mall be closed on days when the NFL team had home games, as part of the deal to build a New Meadowlands Stadium to replace Giants Stadium. The Giants then made an agreement with then-Xanadu to allow the complex to be open on game days, with the option to sue if traffic became a concern, an agreement which remains in effect now that the New Meadowlands Stadium will be co-owned with the New York Jets.[citation needed] The teams contend that while the mall will be closed on Sundays due to Bergen County's Blue Law, the amusement park will not, thus creating traffic jams on game days. Between 20,000 and 25,000 park at the complex on game days. Traffic studies conducted by the team estimate that 7,700 will be added by the project, while developers state that it would add only 63 more cars, 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.[45]

The complex was originally developed by the Mills Corporation in partnership with Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, with financing by Kan Am. In May 2006, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it was formally investigating the Mills Corporation after the company announced that it was restating four years of earnings due to executive misconduct and accounting errors. Later in the year, an analyst at Bank of America Securities pushed Mills Corporation to drop the project, citing the signs of cost overruns.[46]

The Federal Aviation Administration expressed concerns about the height of the Ferris wheel (~330 ft) affecting local air traffic to and from Teterboro Airport.[47]

In February 2015, US Federal prosecutors accused Joe Ferriero, former chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization and New Jersey political power broker, of bribery, fraud, and racketeering charges.[48] The charges included an allegation that Mills Corporation paid Ferriero $1.7 million over the course of several years as a bribe or extortion to maintain Ferriero's political support for their development bid on the Xanadu project against rivals Hartz Mountain Industries. James Dausch, a former Mills Corporation employee testified that the $1.7 million was paid for Ferriero's consulting, not as a bribe. Dausch's testimony detailed much of the development bid process, including paid lobbyists positioning Mills with Governor Jim McGreevey, then Governor Richard Codey, as well as with Senator Robert Menendez.[49] In April 2015, Ferriero was found guilty on five counts, but not on the Mills Corporation racketeering charges.[50]


  1. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (October 2, 2015). "Huge Mall Rising at Troubled Site in North Jersey". New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Nicholaides, Kelly (August 2, 2013). "American Dream Meadowlands handed over former Xanadu project in East Rutherford".
  3. ^ "SpongeBob, Ninja Turtles sign on with American Dream". (The Record). 13 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Bagli, Charles V. (December 13, 2016). "After Many Missed Deadlines, New Jersey Megamall Is Again Taking Shape". New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b c d Brennan, John (2015-09-06). "American Dream Meadowlands nears pivotal moment: the $1B bond sale". Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority Approves Meadowlands Xanadu Development Agreement". Business Wire. December 3, 2003. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  7. ^ "Meadowlands Xanadu Announces Official Groundbreaking Ceremony Date of September 29, 2004". Business Wire. August 3, 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  8. ^ "Mills Corp. and Mack-Cali Sign Deal to Create 4.76m s/f Meadowlands Sport and Leisure Arena". Real Estate Weekly. December 17, 2003. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  9. ^ a b Sullivan, Al (August 25, 2013). "A dream comes true?" The Union City Reporter. pp 5 and 12.
  10. ^ Pristin, Terry (May 19, 2009). "At $2.3 Billion, This Mall Could Be Too Big to Fail". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-16. 
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  12. ^ Tangel, Andrew (February 7, 2010). "Xanadu's $3B 'White Knight' knows how to get things done". The Record. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  13. ^ Brennan, John (May 15, 2010). "Ross Taking over Xanadu, Dumping Name". The Record. Archived from the original on 17 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  14. ^ Sherman, Ted (November 21, 2010). "Panel will advise Gov. Christie on four potential suitors in Xanadu redevelopment". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  15. ^ Brown, Eliot; Fleisher, Lisa (December 24, 2010). "Deal Revives New Jersey's Xanadu". The Wall Street Journal. 
  16. ^ "Snowstorm Shatters New York City, Philadelphia Records". January 27, 2011.
  17. ^ Lamendola, Michael (February 10, 2011). "Protective wall, roof damaged at Xanadu ski dome". South Bergenite. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  18. ^ Brennan, John (February 3, 2011). "Ice buildup causes wall to buckle at Xanadu's snow dome". The Record. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
  19. ^ Brennan, John (April 28, 2011). "Mall of America firm completes deal with Xanadu lenders". The Record. Retrieved 2011-04-30. 
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  22. ^ a b "Stalled Meadowlands mall project is back on". New York Post. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  23. ^ Brennan, John (2014-04-28). "American Dream developers unveil long-awaited makeover, target 2016 opening". The Record. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  24. ^ Joan, Verdon (December 7, 2014), "Retail Giants Lining Up, American Dream Says", The Record, North Jersey Media Group, retrieved September 4, 2015 .
  25. ^ "More Delays For The Meadowlands 'American Dream' Entertainment Complex". CBS New York. April 16, 2016. 
  26. ^ Matthau, David (July 11, 2016). "Will 'American Dream' at Meadowlands ever become a reality?". Townsquare Entertainment News (as New Jersey 101.5 radio). 
  27. ^ Brennan, John; Moss, Linda (August 5, 2016). "Two N.J. agencies look to restart stalled American Dream Meadowlands project". (The Record). 
  28. ^ "SpongeBob, Ninja Turtles sign on with American Dream". (The Record). 13 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  29. ^ Brennan, John (2016-12-22). "American Dream Meadowlands quiet as 2016 end looms". North Jersey Media Group. 
  30. ^ "NJ's 'ugliest-building' fix". New York Post. March 25, 2011. 
  31. ^ "New Jersey Governor Christie promises facelift to NJ's 'ugliest' building". WABC-TV. 
  32. ^ a b Pristin, Terry (April 23, 2008). "Is a Giant Mall an Eyesore? Developer Urges Patience". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  33. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (April 1, 2011). "Fix Xanadu? The Problem May Be Where to Begin". New York Times. 
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  35. ^ Brennan, John (April 29, 2009). "Pepsi Globe Delayed". The Record. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^ "Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park Coming To American Dream Meadowlands". Mahwah Patch. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
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  39. ^ "Meadowlands megamall announces its next big entertainment venue". 29 June 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  40. ^ a b "Aquarium, Legoland coming to Meadowlands complex". 1 October 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  41. ^ Huge Mall Rising at Troubled Site in North Jersey
  42. ^ "American Dream Meadowlands by the numbers". 11 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015. 
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  44. ^ Applebome, Peter (January 24, 2010). "Possible Second Life for Stalled Xanadu Project? Consider Trip to 'Jersey Shore'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
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  46. ^ Gopal, Prashant; Brennan, John (August 12, 2006). "Analyst tells Mills to drop Xanadu". The Record. p. A01. 
  47. ^ Clunn, Nick (October 19, 2007). "FAA seeks shorter Ferris wheel at Xanadu". The Record. p. A01. 
  48. ^ Sampson, Peter (February 27, 2015) "Hard work or abuse of power? Joseph Ferriero corruption trial opens with widely varying portrayals"
  49. ^ Sampson, Peter (March 10, 2015 "Developer testifying in Ferriero trial says $1.7M wasn't a bribe"
  50. ^ Sampson, Peter (April 16, 2015) "Ferriero convicted on racketeering count; ex-Democratic chief used political clout for profit"

External links[edit]