Two major makeovers could help create a “suburban Times Square” just off Route 3 in New Jersey. The state Sports and Exposition Authority has just given the green light to plans by Newmark Knight Frank chairman Jeff Gural to create a sleeker, more compact Meadowlands grandstand.
And American Dream, the multicolored behemoth on the eastern edge of the Meadowlands Sports Complex formerly known as the Xanadu Mall and dubbed the “ugliest building in New Jersey” received final approval for a stylish transformation of its own.
The three million square complex, which will undergo extensive renovations and a 4.5 million square foot expansion costing a total of $1.5 billion, “has the potential to become a suburban Times Square,” according to Glenn Brill, a managing director at FTI Consulting, which worked with Mills Corporation, the mall’s original developer, when construction began.
Gural acquired the troubled Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford earlier this year in hopes of rescuing it from being shut down by Governor Chris Christie’s office.
Construction is now expected to start in February on the new facility designed by Climans Green Liang Architects, the same firm which designed Gural’s much-smaller Tioga Downs in upstate New York.
Meanwhile, Triple Five — which took over the beleaguered Xanadu last year — announced the project received final approval at last week’s Sports Authority meeting for an exterior makeover that will introduce a white and silver color scheme, and replace garish green and orange windows with glass.
“It’ll give it a much more sophisticated feel, and lends itself to a much higher level of retailing,” Paul Ghermezian, senior vice president of Triple Five, explained at a press conference last May. “The thing only thing that stayed is the barreled ceiling.”
By the time Triple Five, which owns the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, completes the project in 2013, the company expects over 25 million foreign visitors to ski in an indoor snow dome, attend concerts in a brand-new performing arts center, and surf six-foot waves in a climate-controlled simulation of a Hawaiian beach.
Nader Ghermezian, the company’s chairman, has been in talks with airlines to provide shuttles to the Meadowlands from Newark, and even increase flights to the airport to accommodate tourists wishing to visit the mall.
Though grand in scale, the project isn’t much different in concept than the open-air, multipurpose shopping centers Brill is seeing pop up across the region.
“Hybrid community retail centers are being developed that combine big boxes, mini boxes such as standalone bank branches, and entertainment offerings,” Brill explained. “This approach helps a retail development connect more readily with a consumer’s lifestyle while reducing travel time.”