The Last Shopping Mall? New Jersey Awaits Xanadu

Amid shopping-center closures across the country, the most expensive mall in U.S. history, New Jersey's Xanadu, plans to open its doors. Is it a shopping palace or a developers' nuthouse?

Rob Bennett / The New York Times / Redux

New Jersey's Xanadu shopping center is the subject of statewide scorn.

It rises out of the tidal murk of the Meadowlands — the polluted northern–New Jersey wetlands on which the sports complex of the same name was built some 33 years ago — like a garish species from a monster movie. What is that swamp thing? It's a mishmash of big-box structures covered in aqua, blue and white tiles, with a little mustard yellow and brown thrown in to finish off the 1970s-nightmare look. Part of the complex, still under construction, is shaped like a ski jump, because what says industrial metropolitan America quite like a Nordic sport?

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