During the 19th Century, when unsanitary and unregulated conditions of the cities caused several residents to flee the urban lifestyle in exchange for a quiet slow-paced rural one. In doing so, more families began to feel the need to live in a big house with a massive front and back yard, lots of space from the next house, a garage, and a number of privately owned cars. These privately owned cars were and still are seen as essential in order to get from the rural home to the grocery store, the nearest school, the nearest hospital, and jobs as well. Aside from the increasing level of carbon footprints being left behind and the skyrocketing amount of gasoline being used up, many states and their department of transportation have continuously been assisting this new lifestyle. As a result, strip malls were born, cul-de-sacs expanded over much of the land, and walking less of an option. New Jersey is no exception. Today in 2016, the New Jersey Department of Transportation continues to fund economic developments that satisfy the automobile driven lifestyle.
One of the most recent economic developments in which Governor Chris Christie has even promised a one billion dollar government tax incentives for the construction of the three million square foot American Dream Meadowlands mega mall which would be located in East Rutherford, adjacent to a number of other massive developments like the Izod Center, Meadowlands Sports Complex and Route 120. The proposal for this building was first introduced by the Mills Corporation back in 2003. However, since then the Project has been stalled, as the Mills Corporation and Colony Capital have both failed to complete the project. Now the area has become idealized with the image of cranes and a symbol of New Jersey’s “waste and failure” as WNYC, NJ Spotlight, and Bloomberg Businessweek mentioned it as.
As of late a third developer from Canada, known as Triple Five, have decided to take over the effort to change the sprawl like community into a massive billion dollar that will attract visitors from New York and New Jersey. As Governor Chris Christie has already proposed to give a one billion dollar government tax incentive and as Triple Five creates a 2.65 billion dollar plan, several doubts have already been raised as to whether such a development will be economically viable. In fact, it has already been noted that Triple Five was late in meeting its own Early Submission Deadline in November for the 2.65 billion dollar plan, not to mention its 1.15 billion dollar bond sale. Although Triple Five has already begun construction of this project, the outcome continues to worry many residents. The most troublesome fact is that it was estimated that if the project is built successfully with an annual net benefit for New Jersey being 36 million dollars, many of the jobs that the development would make would pay only 20,000 dollars a year in a community where the residents have an average annual salary of 80,000 dollars.
As John M Levy mentioned in “Contemporary Urban Planning”, as long as a project promises some sort of economic benefit to the state or municipality then the government will be willing to spend as much revenue as possible in order to complete the mission. In this case, Triple Five and Governor Chris Christie have both expressed that the development will bring an influx of jobs into the market along with plenty of revenue. However, much of the public remains skeptical that this is the best decision that the state has made because it is not a sustainable development. Despite having a bus stop next to the location, the development will still begin to further encourage private ownership of vehicles due to the major highway in which the development is adjacent to. Instead of taking the risk of building a massive mall, the state should put funding toward investing into revitalizing their own cities, such as Newark, Camden ,Atlantic City and even New Brunswick. The work of redeveloping a city is never over because there always be deterioration and buildings/ areas that require attention, along with issues that need to be addressed.
“Planning.” American Dream: Is There a Future for Stalled Mall on the NJ Meadowlands? – NJ Spotlight. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2016.<http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/16/12/11/american-dream-is-there-any-future-for-the-stalled-mall-on-the-nj-meadowlands/>.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. Print.