By Matt Rooney
We’ve had four (!) more governors since Jim McGreevey’s administration dreamed up what was then ominously dubbed ‘Xanadu,’ a 91-acre mall-meets-theme park in the middle of the Meadowlands which resembles a spaceship too large (and ugly) to fly, back in 2003.
And it’s still not done. At a Tuesday press conference which you may’ve caught on the evening news, Comrade Phil Murphy (governor #5) announced that the mall’s ‘first phase’ would finally open next spring.
We’ve heard it all before, of course.
We’ve seen the hardhat-intensive, banner-adorned, celebratory “mission accomplished” pressers at the Meadowlands complex accompanied by a mega mall’s worth of unsupported promises, and yet the perennially screwed taxpayers of New Jersey — on the hook for a massive $800 million bond deal to finance the $2 billion (and climbing) construction project — still don’t have a return on their investment after a gaggle of lawsuits and no less than three different developers.
Some points for you to consider:
(1) Why should the people of New Jersey invest in a privately-owned mall to begin with? Morally, economically, fiscally… it fails all of the basic tests.
(2) Let’s say you’re down with the crony capitalism thing. Why invest our money in a mall when malls are dying? If you’re going to play “central planner,” don’t invest our cash in the 2018 equivalent of a Radio Shack for goodness sake.
(3) What about the nearby Woodbridge Shopping Center, Short Hills Mall, and Menlo Park? Will the alleged new jobs (they’re promising thousands) at the Meadowlands balance out the jobs lost if ‘American Dream’ succeeds and those malls die?
(4) One word: Revel. The state of New Jersey (you and me) subsidized the infamous $2.4 billion casino in Atlantic City — built at a time when the casino market was flooded in A.C. and other casinos were closing — because Revel was supposed to be “different.” It would offer a new entertainment-based experience superior to the other older casinos, or so we were told.
The end result for Revel was abject failure after a few short years of operation and the building’s eventual sale for… $200 million.
We’ve seen this movie before, Save Jerseyans. They’re making the same claims about the ‘American Dream’ that we were asked to swallow, without basis in fact, reason, or history, about Revel. It’s different, because 50%+ is devoted to entertainment versus retail! That’s the line. A familiar lie.
If our politicians and their donor class want to pay to see the same movie? And pick winners and losers, despite the fact that they’ve never demonstrated any skill for doing so? They should start doing it with their own money. I’m getting tired of shelling out my hard-earned dollars for an elaborate yet predictable plot and inevitably disappointing ending.