Monday, June 10, 2013

From Xanadu to the American Dream

Sometime in the late 19th century a British poet named Samuel Taylor Coleridge read a 17th century travel book and came away with the name of Kubla Khan's summer palace, which he used in his poem, "Kubla Khan." Or perhaps he got the name from Milton's Paradise Lost. Who knows? Wherever Coleridge got the name, he turned it into "Xanadu" when he published his poem in 1816 and that's the name we know today.

Orsen Welles read Coleridge's poem and used "Xanadu" as the name of the fabulous Florida mansion of Charles Foster Cane, the protagonist of his 1941 film, Citizen Kane. Later on a computer programmer, Ted Nelson, chose "Xanadu" as the name of his hypertext project. Still later, "Xanadu" was snatched up by Olivia Newton-John as the name of a pop song and a film (which starred Gene Kelly). (I spell this out a bit more in this post, "Xanadu" on the Digital Tip.)

But that's all background.

In the early years of this millenium the Mills Corporation opened Madrid Xanadú, a fabulous shopping and entertainment center that included, among other things, in indoor ski and snowboarding center.

The company planned and started construction on a similar complex in the New Jersey Meadowlands, which is not too far from where I live, Jersey City. That's what this little item is about. That project fell apart when the finances did and construction wasn't completed.

But it now looks like Triple Five Worldwide, which owns the Mall of America, is going to resume construction and complete the project. According to The New York Times:
The company, a conglomerate based in Canada that owns two of the world’s largest malls, plans to spend $1.7 billion, on top of the $1.9 billion spent by two previous developers.

“Our intent is to start shortly,” said Tony Armlin, vice president for development construction at Triple Five. “We’ve never wavered in our intent to move forward. This is a great project.”

The current vision for the project is even bigger than the initial conception that failed so incredibly. It now has approvals to add an exotic glass-domed water park and an amusement park inspired by DreamWorks Animation — in addition to the performing arts center, indoor ski hill, movie theater, 400 shops and more than 50 restaurants already planned for what they call American Dream Meadowlands.
From Xanadu to American Dream Meadowlands. Hmmm. It doesn't sound the same.

And the Jets and the Giants have filed suit to block construction. Why? Because they play their homegames in the nearby MetLife Stadium and they're worried about traffic jams. Furthermore, there are six other malls within minutes of MetLife Stadium and its not at all obvious that New York City tourists will want to travel out to the shopping and entertainment complex.

Will they come? Who knows.

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