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.
Robert Congel, a commercial real-estate developer who lives in upstate New York, has a plan to ”change the world.” Convinced that it will ”produce more benefit for humanity than any one thing that private enterprise has ever done,” he is raising $20 billion to make it happen. That’s 12 times the yearly budget of the United Nations and more than 25 times Congel’s own net worth.