N.J. Group Moves to Block $1.15 Billion in Bonds for Mall

  • Agency approved tax-exempt debt issue for American Dream
  • Wisconsin Public Finance Authority would market the securities

A nonprofit organization representing taxpayers and business owners is trying to block the sale of $1.15 billion in tax-exempt bonds to finance American Dream, an unfinished megamall begun more than a decade ago in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Alliance for Fiscal Integrity cited “flawed procedures” used to push the plan through and demanded the sale be put on hold, according to an 11-page letter sent to the state’s zoning and planning agency for the project. The group said it would file an emergency lawsuit in the state court appellate division if the agency didn’t act by Sept. 12.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted Aug. 25 to approve $350 million of debt backed by grant money for the Canadian developer, Triple Five Worldwide, based in Edmonton, Alberta. Another $800 million issue is backed by payments in lieu of taxes by Triple Five. The New Jersey agency would sell the debt to the Wisconsin Public Finance Authority, which would market the unrated bonds to investors.

The project, abutting the New Jersey Turnpike west of Manhattan, has failed to make several promised opening dates as developers ran out of cash. It now anticipates opening in mid-2018.

“Simply put, the NJSEA lacks the authority to engage in this unprecedented bond sale,” Thomas Calcagni, an attorney for the nonprofit, said in the letter.

A spokesman for the New Jersey agency didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the dispute.

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