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Swamp Dreams

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The Meadowlands project is especially significant to Paul. His uncles bid on the project a decade ago, before it became Xanadu, so this is their second time at bat. He acknowledges that there will be some difficulties. Parking may not be free, and thanks to Bergen County blue laws, a portion of the mall will not be allowed to sell clothes on Sundays. But he faithfully sticks to the vision his family has put together, and he works it hard. “This is going to be more grand than Vegas,” he declares. “It’s going to be more classy.

“The rest of the world—especially those emerging markets—have built really great facilities,” he continues, “and when you come back to the U.S. you see some of these places have not kept up.” His BlackBerry is filled with photos from shopping experiences around the world: a chandelier in a new Vegas store, benches in Mexico. He has been to the Golden Resources Mall in Beijing, and came away unimpressed. “It is basically a stacked retail experience, without any jazz.”

As we are finishing our conversation, mosquitoes begin to make their way into the Sheraton, and then deep into the Starbucks. One lands nearby, but Paul Ghermezian is not concerned. “Mosquitoes don’t like my blood,” he says. Then, looking at his watch, he gets up to drive through the maze of service roads for a meeting at his trailer on the edge of Moonachie Creek.


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