11 Mar 2009 2:00 pm   //   Filed under: Failure, In the news, The suburbs

They’re calling it Xanadu? Seriously?

Everyone’s favorite feature story right now is Meadowlands Xanadu.

Here’s the outline: During the worst economic environment in half a century, a developer is about to open a $2.2 billion shopping mall in northern New Jersey. Insert quotes from area residents who think the building looks silly and retail economists who are sure it will be a business failure. For color, mention the chocolate waterfall, ferris wheel, indoor ski slope and proximity to the New Jersey Turnpike.

For examples, see Time, Business Week, The New York Times, etc.

I agree with the conventional wisdom on this: Wrong idea, wrong location, wrong year. Even if they finish the rail link connecting Xanadu to Manhattan, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which New Yorkers would flock to a shopping mall. That leaves people from Jersey, who already have more malls than they need, or tourists, who will gaze down on Xanadu as their planes land at Newark Airport, and then go somewhere cooler.

This place does hold promise for one group of people, however: Urban explorers, who some day in the future may delight in traipsing across the ruins of this abandoned complex.