Legal Battle May Follow End of EnCap’s Meadowlands Project

A once-promising proposal to transform landfills in Northern New Jersey into an 800-acre master-planned community now appears headed for a long legal battle.  After years of delays and environmental problems, the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission decided on Wednesday to sever ties with EnCap Golf Holdings, which had proposed a $1 billion project spanning three counties west of New York City. EnCap, controlled by Cherokee Investment Partners, wanted to build more than 2,000 homes and two golf courses.  According to published reports, the commission cited EnCap’s inability to secure the financing needed to finish the environmental remediation at the site. Following the commission’s decision, EnCap filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday, according to a report today by Maura McDermott of the Newark Star-Ledger.  Last November, Cherokee brought in the Trump Organization in a bid to move the troubled project ahead. Donald Trump had indicated interest in adding hotel and office components into the project’s mix. As recently as late April, Trump said he might try to  assume the majority financial interest in the project.  But the project ahead had drawn blistering criticism in a February report issued by Mary Jane Cooper, New Jersey’s inspector general. Cooper concluded that EnCap had misrepresented the qualifications and financial backing required to handle the large and complex remediation of the landfill project. According to a report by Ken Belson in the New York Times, the state attorney general’s office recently told Trump that EnCap needed an additional $125 million to wrap up the landfill closure. Cherokee officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but in a statement, the firm contended that the commission’s decision “represents a default on the commitments that the state has made to the Trump Organization and the private institutions that have invested millions in funding to remediate and redevelop the Meadowlands,” according to the Associated Press. Michael Cohen, executive vice president for the Trump Organization, told the Star-Ledger that years of litigation were likely to result from the decision to end EnCap’s involvement with the project.