New name, big expansion for Xanadu project

May 3, 2011 2:54:21 PM PDT
New plans, new owners, and a new name. What was the failed Xanadu is now American Dream.

"It's a pleasure to take over a project we wanted 8 years ago," Nader Ghermezian, American Dream chairman, said.

Ghermezian and his family own the Mall of America in Minnesota, and a similar project in Canada.

Now they're taking charge of the bankrupt and years stalled Meadowlands project, much to Governor Chris Christie's delight.

"We needed people with enthusiasm and knowledge, and they have it," Christie said.

The 3.7 billion dollar American Dream, is larger than the Xanadu plans. It now includes a water park, amusement park, a beach, a ski slope, restaurants, shopping and theaters. The owners are envisioning it as a world known tourist destination, like Mall of America.

"From Europe, South America, other countries. Charter flights and tour packages to bring them here," Ghermezian said.

"50 million people a year 150 thousand a day," John Hanson, of NJ Hanson Commission, said.

The Governor and the Hanson commission brokered a deal that makes the state a partner in the venture to reap hundreds of millions of dollars for New Jersey.

East Rutherford's mayor had taken issue with the size of Xanadu, but he has changed his tune now with the new larger plans and new owners.

"It's looking good. I think it might work with this better plan, still concerned about size," Mayor James Cassella said.

The Super Bowl will be held at the Meadowlands in February 2014. They want American Dream opened by 2013, ready for the big game.

Christie and Triple Five said expanding the never-occupied Xanadu project to 3 million square feet will generate 9,000 Jobs just for the construction, which is expected to begin in the fall.

The state will help finance the project with $200 million in sales tax incentives.

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