New Jersey’s plan to transform polluted landfills into an upscale golf community may be headed for the trash heap.
When the developer, EnCap Golf Holdings LLC, broke ground in 2004, it called the project the “Miracle in the Meadowlands,” a region known for its sports arena and garbage dumps. The state’s plan was to have EnCap pay to clean up nearly 800 acres (320 hectares) and convert them into a recreation and residential area with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
EnCap got $358 million in state loans for the $1.2 billion project, and tax breaks, and still ran low on funding, according to state officials. It owes subcontractors millions of dollars, has been fined for environmental violations, and ceased cleanup work in February, the officials say. They’ve given EnCap until Nov. 20 to restart work, make an additional security deposit and win back withdrawn private financing commitments.
“The situation EnCap has created provides overwhelming evidence that EnCap does not possess the financial resources, administrative skills or technical expertise to complete the project,” Robert Ceberio, executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, said in a Sept. 19 letter to EnCap. The commission oversees development in the region.
The Meadowlands plan called for EnCap to seal four landfills in Lyndhurst and Rutherford and build two golf courses, a hotel, offices, 2,000 housing units, shops and restaurants.
EnCap said it is determined to finish the project, though it wouldn’t rule out selling it to another developer.
EnCap is the second developer to have financing problems for a project in the 32-square-mile (83-square-kilometer) Meadowlands. Last year, Chevy Chase, Maryland-based Mills Corp. ran out of money to build Meadowlands Xanadu, a shopping and entertainment center with an indoor ski slope. Mills sold its stake to Los Angeles-based Colony Capital LLC, which plans to open the complex next year.
The EnCap project began in 2004 under then-Governor James McGreevey, who proclaimed it was “how redevelopment should be done.”