Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Mall That Would Save America - New York Times

The Mall That Would Save America - New York Times: "What Congel has in mind is an outsize and extremely unusual mega-mall. Destiny U.S.A., the retail-and-entertainment complex he is building in upstate New York, aspires to be not only the biggest man-made structure on the planet but also the most environmentally friendly. Equal parts Disney World, Las Vegas, Bell Laboratories and Mall of America -- with a splash of Walden Pond -- the ''retail city'' will include the usual shops and restaurants as well as an extensive research facility for testing advanced technologies and a 200-acre recreational biosphere complete with springlike temperatures and an artificial river for kayaking.
Some locals, however, question Congel's promises of economic benefits to the region, arguing that Destiny may be an elaborate charade. ''He is legally bound to build only a fraction of the square footage of his plan,'' says John DeFrancisco, a state senator and a leading critic of the mall. ''Congel could reap extraordinary tax benefits without actually meeting his goals. There is no guarantee that won't happen.'' And while many environmentalists embrace Congel's grand ideas, others are skeptical. ''How do you reconcile the glaring paradox of an ostensibly fossil-fuel-free development that requires tremendous amounts of fossil fuels to transport visitors to the site?'' asks Ashok Gupta, an energy economist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Moreover, there is something eerily postmodern, even postenvironmental, about the whole of Congel's project: the mega-mall is located on the fringes of the Adirondacks, but visitors will experience only virtual meadows, faux ponds, a river replica and a five-story imitation of a mountain peak."

I suspect this will make the careers of legions of lawyers, before all is said and done.
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