Monday, April 18, 2011

Displeasure Dome

"With a brighter future for New Jersey, where business and pleasure do mix. With sports and recreation. Where learning is fun. I have been living in Jersey all my life I have never seen anything like this...Where mind and body overcome life’s daily stresses. Where the great outdoors comes inside to plan. Where one of New Jersey’s treasures reclaims the spot light and open space is preserved forever. We can show you the money."
— Xanadu Promotional Spot

I hate to keep beating a dead horse but this whole Xanadu fiasco is playing right into my hands. The more I read about it the more it begins support my original thesis, except for a few things. I was hoping to find man-made remains and old ruins as evidence of man's failures in The Meadowlands, but this pitfall is happening in real time. Plus its not just natural phenomena that are pushing back in this case. Political and financial mismanagement as well as basic human greed are also to blame.

After doing some quick searches, I've run across a good account of the saga dating back to early 2009. According to one article, the original projections from the developers in March of that year was pretty optimistic, citing that the property was 70% leased and was on schedule to open in August 2009. This came after Business Week had cast doubt on how much enthusiasm there really was on the part of prospective tenants.

It's also interesting to note how deeply engrained the stigma and the folklore of The Meadowlands is in the collective unconscious. There had been more than one reference made to the legacy of failed "get-rich-quick-schemes" in the region, and journalists and the public can't seem to get past the specter of the surrounding swamps.

The project, both financially and symbolically has become the vortex of a downward spiral that threatens to swallow desperately needed cash from the New Jersey state coffers and the political confidence in the public officials who can't seem to stop shoveling hopes and dreams into what is becoming a bottomless pit of failure.

The forces of Nature have gone to work on the place, as evident in the damage caused by February snowstorms. I will have achieved complete vindication on my thesis if there's a mosquito infestation, tidal flooding or a major sinkhole. Unfortunately I have to accept the fact that I was a little misguided. The roots of folly in The Meadowlands reach deeper and branch out far more than I had ever realized.

I'm hoping that in the next few weeks a major announcement will be made detailing the agreement between the state and the new owners. When it does I'll be all over it. My prediction is that the finances will materialize and the project will be completed. But I don't have much hope that the place, new name and new exterior design notwithstanding, will last more that 5 years.

I'll make it official now and say that the doors will close in 7 years. The building will be vacant and will become a home for rats. It will never be torn down because it will be in the baks of the minds of so many people who believed in this thing that one day it will be re-opened and it will make millions. We will all assume that many of the handshake deals and decisions were dubious or even downright agains the law.

Most of that will never come to light, except in the form of a public official or two who will be thrown under the bus to take the spotlight off of those who are truly responsible. Those secrets and malfeasances, like so many others in The Meadowlands, will end up lost and forgotten in a stinking, muddy grave among the foxtails.

TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE 3-9-09,8599,1883546,00.html


WNYC 3/17/09

WNYC 7/22/10



NY TIMES ARTICLE (response) 4-8-11

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