Xanadu Revisited

Five lenders took control of the troubled Xanadu project at the Meadowlands complex in East Rutherford, N.J., from a group led by Colony Capital, with the hopes of finally completing it.

“This action creates a strong foundation to effect the seamless transfer of ownership in order to complete this project as quickly as possible so that it is open and flourishing as an established visitor destination in advance of the 2014 Super Bowl,” lender group spokesman Michael Beckerman told the Newark Star-Ledger. The New Meadowlands Stadium nearby is the site of the 2014 Super Bowl.

Chairman Carl Goldberg of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority overseeing the Xanadu project welcomed the move.

“The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority and the Governor’s Advisory Commission will continue to work with the banks as there are a number of interested parties in the property,” Goldberg said in a statement cited by the Star-Ledger. “All interested involved wish to see the most qualified party selected to complete and open the project.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other officials have made it clear they want the project finished, and the commission has reportedly been talking to two developers to see that it happens: Canadian conglomerate Triple Five Group and Related Companies mogul Stephen Ross.

The $2 billion Xanadu was originally envisioned to feature an indoor ski slope, skydiving wind tunnels, theatre, the country’s tallest Ferris wheel and hundreds of retail shops. The down economy threw a wrench into Colony’s plans, with an affiliate of bankrupt Lehman Brothers cutting off promised construction funds. From there, alternate financing options dried up and work halted.

The new financing group, which includes Credit Suisse Group AG and Capmark Financial Group, is reportedly required to fast track completion of the project, and said it is negotiating with “several” entertainment and retail operators to resurrect Xanadu.