American Dream is the new name for the former Xanadu project in the Meadowlands across from the new MetLife Stadium where the World Champion New York Giants share the field with the New York Jets. American Dream is now run by the same developers, Triple Five Worldwide, who operate the massive Mall of America and were brought in to rescue the bankrupt developers who pushed the hideous Xanadu project.
One of the major impediments to getting the project completed is dealing with the millions of people who are expected to come to this destination center. Existing highways are maxed out in capacity, particularly on game or event days at MetLife stadium. That means that mass transit has to be a central feature of bringing in people to the area.
NJ Transit built a spur line between the Meadowlands Stadium and Secaucus Junction, which currently operates only during event periods. I've used this service to go to concerts there, and it does a fairly good job of getting people to the Stadium, though it wasn't nearly as efficient as it could have been; it was designed as a spur stop, rather than a through stop, meaning that trains would have to backtrack to Secaucus for commuters or customers seeking to run up the Pascack Valley Line adding an unnecessary delay. One of the justifications for this was the added cost of cleaning up contaminated land on a route allowing a through stop.
However, this is a stop that has potential for significant growth and would add value to the existing Secaucus Junction location (both as a customer transfer point and development of parking and business opportunities there).
Triple Five Worldwide says that they're going to boost mass transit, but one has to wonder how they're going to achieve this. Are they going to pay for the 7-day rail service, or expanded bus service to the site particularly when NJ Transit just cut four bus lines to save costs.
Janna Chernetz, the New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an organization dedicated to reducing car dependency, questioned how NJ Transit would pay for increased service to American Dream. The public transport corporation cut four bus routes in July.The Giants and Jets have sued to block Triple Five's plans, claiming that they didn't consult the teams on the traffic plans, since it could affect game days.
Seven bus routes make regular stops at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, the current titleholder for biggest mall in the county. The Plaza draws about 20 million shoppers a year, less than half of the expected annual turnout at American Dream.
"There's a lot of concerns as to whether or not or how New Jersey Transit's going to fund this," Chernetz said.
John Durso, a spokesman for NJ Transit, would not comment beyond one statement:
"Right now we're still in the process of finalizing our plan to provide robust bus and rail service to support this important economic development project."
Transportation advocates and officials from neighboring municipalities have questioned whether the region can handle the traffic that American Dream is expected to generate. Triple Five says on the American Dream website that the center will draw between 40 and 55 million annual visitors.
In July, Triple Five announced that it would partner with DreamWorks Animation company to create an indoor theme park at American Dream. Don Ghermezian, the president of Triple Five, said he expected the park to become a worldwide attraction.
Labels: American Dream, business, infrastructure, mass transit, Meadowlands, NJ Transit, NY Giants, NY Jets, real estate, Triple Five, Xanadu