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Makeover of New Jersey's 'ugliest' building to start this summer

By Bruce I. Konviser

GREEN BROOK, New Jersey (Reuters) - A long-delayed construction project to spruce up what Governor Chris Christie once called "the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America" is set to begin this summer.

The developer of the American Dream entertainment complex said on Tuesday that one of the first steps to jump-start the problem-plagued project as early as this June will be work on the facade, which state Senator Richard Codey, quoted in the New York Times, once described as "yucky-looking."

Drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike have long been confronted with the cacophony of color encasing the enormous project in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Christie and the developers previously promised to give the building a makeover before this year's Superbowl in February focused attention on New Jersey.

Christie said a new labor agreement for the project, first launched in 2003 and once known as Xanadu, will allow the facelift to finally begin.

Triple Five Group, the current developer of the $2 billion, 2.8 million square foot complex, featuring the first indoor ski area in the United States, plans to begin construction in about two months.

The garish exterior will be encased in a glass and steel shell, according to Alan Marcus, a spokesman for the developer.

Work on the facade may not be completed until the fall of 2016, when the center, which also will include a water park and high-end stores, is due to open, Marcus said.

The project has lurched forward, with periodic financial and legal interruptions.

Marcus said it will create about 9,000 construction-related jobs and as many as 15,000 permanent jobs once the site opens. Three years ago, Christie projected the complex would create as many as 35,000 permanent jobs.

Financing for the plan includes a $390 million tax credit, which the developer is expected to pay back within the first 20 years of operation.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)

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