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Mall Of America Owner Eyes Troubled NJ Complex

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Mall of America (credit: Timo Gans/AFP/Getty Images)

Mall of America (credit: Timo Gans/AFP/Getty Images)

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The company that owns several of North America’s largest malls said Thursday it intends to take over a massive, troubled retail and entertainment complex in northern New Jersey.

Triple Five Corp., which owns the Mall of America in Minnesota and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, announced Thursday that it has signed a letter of intent with the lenders of a 2.3 million-square-foot complex called Xanadu in New Jersey’s Meadowlands, about 10 miles west of New York City. It’s next to the Izod Center and across a highway from the $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium, which is slated to host the 2014 Super Bowl.

The sprawling $2 billion complex originally was projected to open in late 2007 and feature shops, an indoor snow dome, a movie complex, bowling alley, restaurants and an upscale martini bar. But it stands empty, with its hulking, multicolored, multi-patterned exterior a source of curiosity for passers-by on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Creditors took over Xanadu in August, after original lead developer Mills Corp. ran into financial problems and was replaced as general managing partner in early 2007 by Los Angeles-based Colony Capital Acquisitions.

Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backed the findings of a panel studying the state’s gaming, sports and entertainment industries that recommended the state commit $875 million to help finish Xanadu.

Christie applauded Triple Five’s announcement Thursday, saying it was part of a promise he had made to help revitalize the complex and transform it from a financial drain to a source of jobs and tax revenue.

“We’re glad to have Triple Five’s long-term investment in New Jersey and I am confident that the developers who created the most-visited mall in the world, due to their vision and innovation, will transform the Meadowlands into New Jersey’s very own Mall of America,” Christie said.

Triple Five wants to put the Meadowlands on the map as a world-class tourist destination, said senior vice president Paul Ghermezian.

“We have monitored the project since its inception and are uniquely positioned to complete the project and operate it successfully,” he said. “A successful entertainment destination will attract millions of locals and tourists to the area, create jobs and generate substantial tax revenues.”

Jim Kirkos, the president of the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau, also welcomed Triple Five’s announcement, saying Xanadu is essential to a wider plan to develop gaming and other options at the site.

“The Meadowlands Sports Complex has no excuse except to be the number one multi-venue entertainment and sports district in the world, and we will continue our work to support its reinvention,” Kirkos said.

Triple Five will make it plans for the project public in 2011.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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