New Jersey's American Dream project brings big claims from governor

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New Jersey’s long-awaited American Dream Meadowlands development will deliver billions in tax revenue for the Garden State over the next two decades, according to Gov. Chris Christie.

The megamall project in East Rutherford N.J., slated to open in March 2019, is projected to create an average of $3.5 billion in tax revenue paid to the state over the first 20 years of operation, Christie said during a press conference this week at the American Dream construction site in East Rutherford, N.J. next to MetLife Stadium.

The Republican governor said the revenues will include more than $2 billion in sales taxes and over $1.5 billion of corporate business taxes, income tax, as well as hotel tax and occupancy fees. He also said development and construction of the American Dream will generate upwards of $80 million in tax revenues for New Jersey as much as $70 million in sales tax revenue on construction materials and nearly $10 million in corporate business taxes.

“After this project languished during previous administrations and a few other bumps along the way on our own, this project is progressing vigorously,” said Christie, whose eight-year run as governor ends in January.

The megamall project first broke ground in 2004 as Xanadu under a different developer before encountering a series of financing obstacles from the credit crisis.

Triple Five Group, which operates the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which are similar in concept, took over the project in 2011 and is planning entertainment destinations to lure shoppers including an indoor water park, ski facility, performing arts center and an outdoor observation wheel that provides views of the nearby Manhattan skyline.

“I think that in the new age of online and when everybody talks about experiential and how people are talking about bringing entertainment to their centers, I believe that we have truly define what that means and what that is to a level that no one else in the world really has,” Triple Five Chief Operating Officer Paul Ghermezian said during Monday’s press conference with Christie.

To finance the final construction stages of the American Dream development, Wisconsin’s Public Finance Authority sold $1.1 billion in tax-exempt revenue bonds in June as a conduit issuer for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which operates the Meadowlands District that houses the project.

The two negotiated unrated bond deals led by lead underwriter Goldman Sachs included $800 million of limited obligation revenue bonds backed by a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement between Triple Five and East Rutherford, along with $287 million of grant revenue bonds secured by anticipated sales tax revenue. Triple Five also secured $1.6 billion in private construction loans from JPMorgan in May to jump-start the targeted March 2019 completion date.

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Budgets Revenue bonds Chris Christie Public Finance Authority New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority New Jersey