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Meadowlands plan unveiled by governor.

Two weeks after announcing a plan for a new sports arena in Newark, New Jersey Acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco has unveiled a master plan for redevelopment of the Meadowlands.

Under the acting governor's Newark arena plans, the New Jersey Devils and Nets would no longer use the Continental Airlines arena for home games once the new arena is built. But, under the master plan for the Meadowlands, a new stadium for the New York Giants and Jets would be part of a "urban park" incorporating sports, entertainment, retail and office uses.

"The plan we are presenting represents a vision for the future of the Meadowlands," DiFrancesco said. "It is a bold vision that will likely take 10 or more years to complete."

Under the plans for the new $355 million Newark arena, state taxpayers would not provide any of the upfront costs to construct the stadium. Rather, it would be financed in part by diverting up to $190 million in sales taxes over the next 30 years to service construction debt. YankeeNets, the holding company that owns the Devils, would provide $115 million and $50 million will be financed by revenues generated to Essex County and the City of Newark.

Among goals for the Meadowlands redevelopment plan are enhancing economic activity that benefits the region and the rest of the state, preserving the fragile Meadowlands ecosystem, reducing outstanding New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority debt, and reducing traffic in the region, DiFrancesco said.

Among essential plan elements are:

* Building a new football stadium.

* Creation of the Village Center, including a 4,000-seat amphitheater, corporate exposition pavilions, plazas and parks.

* Family entertainment and retail destination featuring family-oriented and sports-themed entertainment, shopping and interactive displays.

* Retention of thoroughbred and harness racetracks with the potential for a new auto racetrack and grand-stand.

* 31,000 parking spaces to handle major events, daily commuters, and regular usage associated with the village and family entertainment complex.

* Preservation and promotion of the Meadowlands ecosystem, including environmental leasing throughout the region that could potentially result in the permanent preservation of the Empire Tract.

* Reduction of traffic through the creation of a rail spur and train station in the village center. Route 120 would be realigned to create one contiguous property to increase the utility of the site and improve traffic.

Like the plan for the Newark arena, DiFrancesco said the Meadowlands redevelopment should be self-financed. The only element of the plan that should be financed by taxpayers is traffic improvements, he said.

Under the master plan, a Sports Entertainment District would be created in the Meadowlands that would allow revenues from new developments in the district to be used for improvements.

Among organizations that assisted with developing the master plan are the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the Sports and Exposition Authority, the Hackensack Meadowland Development Commission, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and New Jersey Transit. Architect Stan Eckstut, a principal at Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn, worked on the master plan.

When the Meadowlands opened 30 years ago, it was "the best facility of its kind anywhere in the world," DiFrancesco said.

"Since it's opening, however, much has changed in both the world of professional sports and in the Meadowlands region," he said. "New pressures face the Sports and Exposition Authority, the teams, area residents and the region's infrastructure. Clearly the time has come to look anew at the Meadowlands and re-envision the potential that lies within."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:Jul 4, 2001
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