General Growth just announced they’re filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their malls across the U.S. are faltering, as are a lot of other malls according to an article in Time magazine – up to 3,000 could close this year. And just as those predictions are announced, the most expensive mall ever built, at an estimated $2BB for its 2.4MM sq. ft., is set to open in August, right in the eye of the economic hurricane. You can also read an article and see a video about Xanadu at businessweek.com.
Xanadu, opening in the Meadlowlands of New Jersey, says it’s leased 73% of its space as of March according to the article. The typical mall fare of dining, movies and shopping is being bolstered with a skydiving simulator, indoor wave pool, 28 story Ferris wheel and indoor ski and snowboarding facility. But there’s even more: The Children’s Science Center, Legoland Discovery Centre and Wannado City are also part of this megalopolis.
At the crossroad of the Jersey Turnpike and two busy state roads, 88MM vehicles will pass the mall each year. A rail line to the site will also help shuttle consumers to Xanadu, taking only 23 minutes from Manhattan.
Okay, so the building isn’t all that attractive, rising out of the wetlands and not at all taking the surroundings into consideration with its architecture or design sensibility (or lack of). But this Mall of America on the East Coast has all the makings for becoming a destination, the very thing the Mall of America in Minneapolis set out to do and achieved.
And given that Americans are traveling less, and opting for staycations over vacations, this may be exactly the right time to open this monument to consumerism.