Updated On November 2, 2015 at 5:54 p.m.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Governor Christie once called it the ugliest building in the U.S.
The former Meadowlands Xanadu site has been sitting empty for nearly a decade, but is undergoing a makeover.
It’s being transformed into a massive entertainment complex with an indoor amusement park.
Driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, you can’t miss the multi-colored complex in the Meadowlands, but block out the tackiness and envision an indoor Dream Works themed amusement and water park with character driven birthday party rooms from movies like Shrek, and ski slope in a chalet surrounded by shops.
The outer facade will also be undergoing a makeover, American Dream CEO Don Ghermezian told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.
“Over the next three or four months, we’ve got the steel arriving on site.
The American Dream is scheduled to open in Bergen County some time in the summer of 2017.
Ghermezian’s family owns mall of America in Minnesota, the largest in the country.
“Once the project opens, people will look back and say ‘we can’t believe what these guys built for us in this market place,'” he said.
Crews are busy at work digging and building foundations.
CBS2’s Sloan got a look at the construction site where cranes will be replaced with an amusement park and a water park.
“There are over 55-million tourists that are coming to New York City. Very few of them that are coming across the river. This now gives them a reason to come across the river,” Ghermezian said.
Visitors will still get a taste of the Big Apple when they ride a Ferris wheel with a view of Manhattan’s skyline, and FAO Schwarz which closed its iconic doors in the city and is owned by Toys “R” Us, plans to open a flagship store inside American Dream.
Ghermezian wouldn’t confirm nor deny that.
Toys “R” Us was not calling the FAO Schwarz a flagship store. In a statement the company said:
“Toys“R”Us at American Dream will occupy a total of 55,000 square feet on three levels of the center and will feature an assortment of products from top toy companies, as well as proprietary products. This will include a specialty line of great FAO Schwarz branded items, which we carry in our Toys“R”Us stores nationwide.”
Ghermezian also beamed about other attractions like a LEGO Land, trendy boutiques that you’d find on Fifth Avenue like Hermes, Saks, and affordable stores like H&M with digital dressing rooms, a kosher food hall, and dozens of posh restaurants.
“The patio sits in front of the restaurants, overlooks this park where we have a stage where we’ll have performances, and shows on a nightly basis, kind of Vegas like,” he said.
The retail stores won’t be open on Sundays because of Bergen County’s Blue Laws, but everything else will. So there will only be partial congestion when there are Jets and Giants games.
“I would definitely go to one of those places. It’s something for this area that is different,” Rob Clark said, “Traffic is going to be insane, but you live in Jersey.”
When the project is done in the late summer of 2017, you won’t be able to see the building, but will have a view of a glass encased, indoor amusement park.
Extra lanes have been added to major roads around the complex to cater to more drivers, including Routes 17 and 120.
American Dream officials also said NJ Transit will run additional trains to Secaucus and into Manhattan once the complex opens.