The Christie administration, lenders and a new developer have reached a deal to revive the vast Xanadu entertainment and retail complex, which sits forlorn and unfinished along a stretch of New Jersey highway after having burned through two owners and $1.9 billion, people involved in the negotiations said Thursday.
Â The plan: make it even bigger, give it a new name and slap a new skin on the much reviled exterior walls of the 2.4-million-square-foot complex.
The new developer, the Triple Five group, will invest more than $1 billion in the seven-year-old project. And Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to provide low-interest financing and to forgo most sales tax revenue for a period of timeâ€¦
If the tunnelâ€”called the â€œAccess to the Regionâ€™s Core,â€ or ARC projectâ€”doesnâ€™t get built, New Jersey is almost certain to lose the federal money that had been committed to the project. The state will also have to pay back around $300 million thatâ€™s already been spent. Meanwhile, commuters and Amtrak riders will continue to suffer through long delays every morning as trains wait for their turn to pass through a century-old train tunnel under the Hudson. Property values near commuter rail wonâ€™t increase, as they did after the first commuter connection to midtown Manhattan opened in 1996. The people who were working on the project will, of course, lose their jobs. And the strain on the existing tunnel will continue to increase, until New Jersey is eventually forced to build a new tunnel, with or without the federal money and super-low interest rates that make the ARC project so attractive today.
You see?Â If it’s a public good, then according to Christie it’s not “financially viable.”Â But if it’s a particular boondoggle, then of course you can spend New Jersey taxpayer money to subsidize it.Â That’s not just hypocritical: it’s economically insane.Â ItÂ has the government picking winners and losers, while failing to provide the infrastructure to help the private sector generally.
You’d almost think that these guys don’t care about anything as long as they can oppose the President.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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