The mall that would save America [The New York Times]

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.

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.

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