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Too big to fail: American Dream worth one more shot

Talk about a statement.

With a newly expanded Economic Redevelopment and Growth grant program at its disposal, the Economic Development Authority that administers the incentive awarded Triple Five a tax break worth nearly $400 million to help offset costs associated with the developer's bid to complete the failed Xanadu megamall in East Rutherford.

So one of the first awards under the controversial Economic Opportunity Act goes to one of the most controversial projects in recent history. Sounds about right.

Triple Five, of course, is the last developer standing that thinks it can reboot Xanadu into American Dream, a shopping and entertainment paradise in the shadow of MetLife Stadium. When envisioned a decade ago, its most recognizable features were a giant Ferris wheel and an indoor ski slope; Triple Five's plans would include a massive water park.

This is a project that's hard to feel good about because there have been so many delays along the way and so much promise squandered. And that's leaving aside the legal wrangling with the Jets and Giants that's been a more miserable mire than the swamp upon which American Dream stands.

But the EDA's call is the right one. There's a huge jobs impact here — nearly 12,000 permanent positions and some 6,000 construction jobs will be created as a result of the building — and while they won't be the high-talent engineering or pharmaceuticals jobs the state covets, they will go a long way toward revitalizing the state's sallow employment metrics.

Additionally, by now, this project has achieved too-big-to-fail status. You'd have a point if you called the real estate the project sits on the most valuable in the state: It's just across the river from Manhattan, and if expanded rail service can draw in shoppers and thrillseekers from across the Hudson, that tax break will be made back in a heartbeat.

Let's face it: The building looks awful and has a history of failure only rivaled by New Coke. Neither of those problems will be resolved by the time the Super Bowl comes to town in February. But that isn't enough to criticize this award. We're pleased the EDA still sees the value in this project.

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