Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Meadowlands Development

The project at the Meadowlands in NJ (formerly Xanadu, now American Dream) is one of Atrios's bugaboos and is fun to read whatever he digs up.

I'm a mall skeptic in the era of Amazon, but not a shopping and entertainment complex skeptic.  The particulars of this project do seem really bad.  The question should be how do people get around and how do they get there?  Mall of America in MN is surrounded by people who drive to get everywhere, and is in a fairly modestly populated area so driving to get everywhere works.

The Meadowlands is just outside of NYC in northern NJ in one of the most densely populated parts of our country.  Yea, some people drive, but more than half of NYC residents don't even own a car, and it's the only city in the US with >50% of people who commute via transit (if you just say "not by car" that number goes up quite a bit).  In addition, while there is more driving in Jersey and upstate NY, there is still far more train and bus riding that in the midwest.  In fact of the 6 cities to crack 20% transit ridership, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia join NYC as northeast transit cities (Chicago and San Francisco are the remaining 2) with Baltimore just missing the 20% cut.  In the rest of the US, only Seattle, Portland and LA manage to top 10%.

If they want that place to work, they're going to need a dedicated train stop that is just outside the doors, not across a street and 1000 ft. of parking lot.  I'm not sure if that's going to happen, but even if it does, it's still a huge question mark because of the rest of the northeast.  There are mountains and an ocean, there are several major cities including NYC and DC.  There are plenty of amusement parks, and there is already a lot of shopping around (including plenty of high end).  Is a shopper really going to see that mall as better than NYC or even the existing malls around (including King of Prussia and multiple outlet malls)?  Is someone interested in the amusement park aspect going to find that a better option than any of the amusement/water parks in the area (including indoor options)?

The only way it works is that people who don't have easy access to various cities, parks, beaches, et cetera, can get here and the only way that happens is with good, easy transit access.  Even ignoring the "parking lots are a blight" aspect, if this place relies on drivers, its doomed.

No comments: