The Greenest Mall Ever Built

Amanda Griscom Little writes in today’s NY Times magazine about a huge ‘eco-mall’ being built in Syracuse, NY. Robert Congel, a commercial real-estate developer 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.

While environmentalists are often regarded as doomsayers, Congel is without question an optimist: he is certain that America and its great commercial endeavors can thrive in a post-fossil-fuel era. A similar conviction is represented in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign to put solar installations on a million California rooftops and in the agreement by the mayors of more than 165 American cities to honor the Kyoto Protocol and help develop renewable energy. Although the mall called ‘Destiny’ is still years away from opening, Congel’s executives have already held talks with Schwarzenegger about exporting the franchise and have excited interest from developers in England and China.

Of course, Destiny’s success could be bittersweet to some: if Congel has his way, the road to eco-paradise will not only be paved; it will be glassed-in, climate-controlled and lined with shops.