NFL teams, developer reach pact on NJ megamall
NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey's two pro football teams and a developer have settled dueling lawsuits, clearing the way for a long-delayed megamall project at the Meadowlands sports complex.
The New York Giants, New York Jets and developer Triple Five Inc. released a statement Wednesday that confirmed the settlement, but neither side provided specific details.
Originally known as Xanadu and scheduled to open in 2007, the project languished during the economic downturn before Triple Five, whose properties include the Mall of America in Minnesota, took over at the end of 2010.
The immense, pastel-hued structure, once called "the ugliest damn building in New Jersey" by Gov. Chris Christie, has sat unfinished between MetLife Stadium and the New Jersey Turnpike for several years. During last month's Super Bowl it was used as a command centre for security operations.
Triple Five's new vision, dubbed American Dream, is planned to include a waterpark and Hollywood-themed amusement park in addition to dining and retail.
The Jets and Giants sued the developer in 2012, claiming Triple Five didn't get their permission — as required under an earlier agreement — to expand the footprint for the mall from its original design. They sought to have the mall closed on game days to avoid traffic backups.
Triple Five countersued, accusing the teams of engaging in an illegal campaign to stop the project from being completed.
While details of the settlement remain confidential, a statement from Christie's office appeared to demonstrate that the sides had reached a compromise on a traffic and parking plan.
The settlement provides for a co-operative effort by Triple Five, the teams and various state agencies to implement "a variety of mass transit and traffic improvements that will complement a detailed traffic and parking management plan designed to enhance the experience of all visitors ... particularly on NFL game days," the statement read.
Triple Five spokesman Alan Marcus said construction has been underway at the site since November and that it would pick up once the weather improved. The interior remains unfinished, and the developer plans changes to the mall's exterior.
The developer hasn't said when the project is expected to be completed, though a year ago it was estimated it would take about 24 months once construction restarted.
At least there is hope for those who, like Christie, have expressed displeasure with the exterior: A computer rendering on Triple Five's website shows the outside of the building without the rectangular pastel panels.