Mall of America developer to take over stalled Xanadu project

Triple Five, the owner and developer of Minnesota’s Mall of America, has signed a letter of intent to take over Meadowlands Xanadu on Route 3 in East Rutherford.
Once expected to be a premier shopping, entertainment, and sports complex, Xanadu has for years been mired in problems related to its financing.
The 4.8 million square foot complex was designed to feature five theme-oriented shopping and entertainment districts. Envisioned to be a cross between an indoor theme park and a mall, Xanadu was supposed to feature a 287-foot Ferris wheel, an aquarium, an indoor snow dome for skiing, two skydiving tunnels, movie theaters, and up to 200 stores packed into its 2.3 million square feet of retail space.
It was also expected to fuel the local economy, adding 20,000 temporary jobs during the construction phase and another 20,000 permanent jobs once completed.
In August, however, a consortium of lenders that had financed Xanadu wrested control of the project from Colony Capital, a private equity firm that had been developing it.
Triple Five is now the latest developer to step in to attempt to save the $2.3 billion project. The Mall of America Developer has, according to Gov. Christopher Christie, signed a letter of intent with the lender group to complete Xanadu.
“I promised the people of Bergen County and the State of New Jersey that action would be taken to revitalize the complex at the Meadowlands and…I am delivering on that promise,” Christie said in a release last week. “This administration fully supports the progress being made and will be a true partner at every step in transforming the Meadowlands from a financial and economic drain into a vibrant destination so that New Jerseyans can begin to reap the benefits of the job creation and much-needed tax revenues this project will provide.”
The company is, according to the governor’s office, expected to unveil specific plans for Xanadu sometime next year.
In addition to Mall of America, Triple Five also owns the West Edmonton Mall in Canada. The company operates most of the non-retail venues in its shopping centers, including amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, miniature golf courses, hockey rinks, cinemas, concert event centre, specialty restaurants, live dinner theatres, and hotels.

Testimony ends in hearing of Secaucus Board of Education employee

An administrative law judge hearing the case of a former Secaucus Board of Education employee has given attorneys 45 days to submit legal briefs and other subpoenaed materials to the court. Administrative Law Judge Ellen S. Bass – who is hearing the case of former administrative assistant Natalizia “Natalie” Busnelli Aljallad, whom the Board of Trustees voted to terminate in June – made the ruling on Dec. 29.
Testimony in the matter, which began in October, also ended on Dec. 29 with Busnelli taking the stand for the stand in her defense.
According to interviews and affidavits obtained by the Reporter, Busnelli, who has recently gone back to using her maiden name, was terminated from her job as a tenured administrative aide in the board office on Jan. 21, following allegations that she sexually harassed a Secaucus police officer assigned to Secaucus High School as a safety officer, made false statements to the same police officer, and made slanderous statements against two Board of Education trustees.
The alleged incidents took place a year ago in December 2009, according to an affidavit from Schools Superintendent Cynthia Randina.
In January 2010 she was suspended without pay from her job, and the Board of Trustees ultimately voted in June to terminate her employment with the Board of Education, a termination she is fighting.
In November the board was required by state law to put Busnelli back on the payroll, even though she is not back at work. Gene Manfra, a spokesman for the Board of Education, explained last month that, “The four month time period typically set aside to resolve these matters had expired. By statute, the employee must be paid until the judge issues a ruling, even if the final determination indicates wrongdoing.”
The Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor has already dismissed a criminal complaint against Busnelli that stemmed from these same allegations, according to a document from the prosecutor’s office.
The matter is now before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law in Newark. No jury is involved in the case. Judge Bass could render a decision in the matter by April.

Boys & Girls come test your free throw skills

Boys and girls ages 10 to 14 are invited to participate in the 2011 Secaucus Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship Contest, to be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the Immaculate Conception Church gymnasium. Registration is at 7 p.m. The competition begins at 7:30 p.m.
All participants compete in their respective age groups and all are recognized for their participation. Competitors are required to furnish proof of age and written parental consent. (The age of participants is determined by their ages as of Jan. 1.)
The Knights of Columbus Free Throw Competition is held annually, with winners progressing through local, district, and state competitions. Last year more than 223,000 shooters participated in over 3,200 local events.
For entry forms or further information, contact Jim Cannan at (201) 864-9360 or (201) 647-4738. To have an entry form emailed, contact Neal McGarrity at
Immaculate Conception Church, 760 Post Place, Secaucus.

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