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Old Posted Sep 4, 2019, 10:12 PM
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chris08876 chris08876 is offline
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New Jersey’s Dream mall: 40M people and a traffic nightmare

After 16 years of false starts, the behemoth American Dream retail and amusement complex is set to open just west of Manhattan. To get there, an expected 40 million visitors must join the traffic-choked roads of northern New Jersey.

The project’s owner, Triple Five Group, expects crowds to rival those at its Mall of America, where express buses, free shuttles and Minnesota’s most-traveled light-rail route carry people to the busiest U.S. shopping destination. Unlike Minnesota, New Jersey has no plans to link the site by rail from its major airport. In fact, it has no plans for any new train service, only additional bus routes with extended hours and stops.

American Dream was built in New Jersey’s Meadowlands, where some of the nation’s most congested highways crisscross swamps, former landfills and commuter towns. In and around neighboring MetLife Stadium, home to the busiest National Football League playing schedule and a favorite concert stop for the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce, stand-still traffic and transit muck-ups are routine.

“At peak hours, I can see traffic being backed all the way up to the Lincoln Tunnel,” Secaucus Mayor Mike Gonnelli, whose town hall is 6 miles from Times Square, predicted for American Dream. “I don’t know how extra buses are going to be enough for 40 million people.”

The East Rutherford complex’s 3 million square feet (279,000 square meters) are 45% retail and 55% entertainment, including what Triple Five calls the Western Hemisphere’s biggest indoor theme park, North America’s only indoor snow skiing and a DreamWorks water park. Among the tenants are Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes, Century 21, a kosher food market and a 20-restaurant dining terrace.

While the opening coincides with a dire retail outlook -- fewer than half of U.S. malls are expected to survive ongoing store closings, according to Bloomberg Intelligence -- American Dream says it can beat the odds because of its attractions mix and accessibility to New York City, on pace to draw 67 million tourists this year.

Proposed in 2003 as a mega-mall called Xanadu, the project’s ownership changes and financial hard times left it unfinished. Its indoor ski slope became a forlorn landmark for New Jersey Turnpike motorists; its garish multicolor exterior in 2011 was called “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and possibly America” by then-Governor Chris Christie.
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