"Sometime in the 23rd century...the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the
forgotten world outside.
Here in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There's just one
catch. Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of carousel. "
- introduction to Logan's Run
Or... the 21st Century and it's a mall in Syracuse, NY.
, profiled in the New York
today, is a $20 billion project described as "the mall that could save America." Scheduled to be built on a rehabbed
brownfield, DestiNY USA is an 800-acre enclosed waterfront structure that will house 75 million square feet of dining, shopping, entertainment,
hospitality and recreation venues.
The concept is that this destination "retail city" will attract visitors with it's part-Disneyworld, part-Mall-of-America, part-Las Vegas,
part-technology wonder atmosphere--where people will bring the whole family to stay for an average of 3 days to shop, play, shop, eat, shop, learn,
shop, relax, and, of course, shop.
However, this is no ordinary super-mall. This is clearly a place with an agenda. The facility will not be built with any fossil fuels (at least
directly) and is completely dependent on renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, wind and other renewable sources.
Also, adjacent to the facility will be an extensive research facility that will house firms that will "test advanced technologies."
This is where things get creepy. Visitors to DestiNY USA will not only be spending money, but participate in
, which is a big selling point to draw firms to become partners
in designing the infrastructure of the complex and leasing space in the research center.
What does this mean? Not only will you be shopping in The Gap and Sharper Image, but you will be used as test subjects enclosed in a controlled
environment where you will be manipulated and your every move and spoken word (and possibly thought!) will be logged by an array of experimental and
sophisticated monitoring technologies.
Some of the organizations that have signed on to test such things as retail, entertainment, security and energy technologies are household names like
Intel, Clear Channel, Cisco, Sony, Microsoft, A.D.T. Security Systems--and the Department of Homeland Security.
(Huh? I just wanted to buy some shoes--and the Department of Homeland Security will be "testing new devices that will track all visitors entering
and leaving the mall"?)
RFIDs will be used for everything from instantly paying for purchases to avoid checkout lines, to making dinner reservations and to serving as a
personal GPS--but to also provide all kinds of data back to stores, marketing firms, security, the government--whomever, on what you bought, where you
bought it, how you felt when you bought it, and what you did before and after you bought it. I would imagine that your environment will also be
manipulated to experiment with consumer behavior.
I would also imagine that environment would be manipulated for purposes other than shopping. Considering that the intention is to keep people in a
controlled environment for several days, I'm sure that there are lots of experiments that could be conducted on unwitting subjects.
But I can't help but wonder if this isn't a beta test of future city planning--for a time when living under glass without fossil fuels may be a
necessity... and the opportunity for control and manipulation is just mind-boggling (hence the Logan's Run quote...)
The man behind this project is real estate developer Robert Congel, who is funding the project through his firm,
The Pyramid Companies
. (Pyramid. I know.) They control 20 or so malls across the country.
Congel is receiving over a billion dollars in tax concessions with more to come dependent on the number of jobs he creates in the area. He also is
awaiting a ruling from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) to exercise eminent domain over 29 local businesses that stand in the
way of development.
An interesting development is that Congel made an
unusual and possibly illegal
of OCIDA to keep his development agreement with the county secret--and oddly they have granted the request.
Maybe I am just reading to much into this--we are already the unwitting subjects of market research already... but the whole DestiNY USA concept just
gives me the creeps.