EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was supposed to be the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but some say getting the project finished has been a nightmare.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, many are now wondering if the mega mall will ever be done.
The giant cranes are visible from near and far – left without a job to do at the American Dream mall site off Route 3 within the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford. There are no hard hats or operating construction vehicles.
Work stopped months ago.
“Are they ever going to get it done, or just blow the whole thing up?” said resident Jacques Pereira.
“I’ve been told that they are looking forward to getting stared again in the next month to six weeks,” said East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella. “Whether that will happen or not we don’t know.”
Cassella said the project has been on his plate since 2003 when various previous developers named it Xanadu. It has taken so long that some question the need for a mega mall.
Since the 2011 plan, more and more people are shopping online rather than at brick-and-mortar stores.
When asked if it was frustrating that the project has taken so long, Cassella said, “Simple answer – yes.”
“When the Xanadu project failed, there was a structure there, and now they’ve added onto that structure. I don’t know how many more times they’re going to keep adding onto to something and then have it fail and somebody else come along,” he said.
CBS2 asked Gov. Chris Christie about the delay and was told to contact NJSEA, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The agency passed CBS2 on to a PR group, representing American Dream and Triple Five developers.
After multiple calls and emails for two days, there was no response.
It seems the American Dream has turned into a nightmare. The new developer, Triple Five, still has not secured funding.
The $2.65 billion finance plan depends on a complicated $1.5 billion bond sale. The company will not put any of its own cash into the project.
Locals say the biggest boost to the economy may be in the form of construction jobs.
“Generate business – there’s a lot of people that aren’t working,” said Anthony Schirripa of East Rutherford. “They come here all the time.”
Residents said it is time to wake up and make something happen.
Triple Five set a previous deadline of November 2016 to secure funding, but four months have since passed.