Tuesday, August 4, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 11:12 AM

Take my empty buildings and lots - please. This is the message the city of Atlantic City is sending out by issuing Requests for Proposals for 14 vacant lots and buildings owned by the city, or in a few cases, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The properties range from various empty commercial lots far from the tourism zones to residential lots in the South Inlet to the city's picturesque but underutilized Garden Pier (see photo) and the historic but in need of rehab Comfort Station across from Boardwalk Hall. The full RFP can be found here. 

The goal, according to city officials, is not to make some quick cash just by selling the land, which encourages speculators, but to encourage creative and sustainable development that would anticipate a future Atlantic City not so dependent on casinos and tourism, more hospitable to residents and the coveted millenials.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 5:16 PM

There will be poetry at the Farmer's Market in Atlantic City after all.

After the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority scrapped a proposal to pay poets to read in between music performances at the city's Farmer's Market because politicians complained about the spending, area poets offered to read their poetry for free.

And so they shall.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 4:08 PM
File: A view of the beach in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City's Emergency Manager, Kevin Lavin, appointed by Gov. Christie in January, did not issue an updated report this month as promised in his previous report, when he recommended $10 million in budget cuts, hundreds of layoffs, and mediators to negotiate with casinos and unions.

He did, however, produce a $375 an hour newly hired spokesman, Bill Nowling, previously the spokesman for Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who also served as a consultant for Atlantic City. Orr earned about $70,000 for about three months of work before departing in April.

Nowling was in Atlantic City Tuesday from Detroit (he flew in cheap on Spirit Airlines, he said) to meet with a couple of reporters and some of the Emergency Manager's staff, including people from accounting firm Ernst & Young, who have a $250,000 contract with the city, and law firm Skadden, Arps, he said.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 8:09 AM
Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts performs onstage during the 2015 CMA Festival on June 11, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Getty Images)

Tickets go on sale this Friday for the second non-free big Atlantic City beach concert this summer.

Country group Rascal Flatts will bring their Riot Tour to the beach Thursday Aug. 20, with the odd time on Ticketmaster listed at 4 p.m., along with the fan friendly price of $20. Ashley Monroe will also be on the bill. 

Maroon 5, Nick Jonas and Matt McAndrew were previously announced to be the beach acts for Aug. 16. General admission tickets available for that concert at $39.50.

POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2015, 3:33 PM

   Atlantic City is one step closer to getting its PILOT _ a new casino taxation system _ and other bills designed to stabilize the city's finances and steer the city through rough economic seas. On Thursday afternoon, the N.J. Senate approved a package of bills designed to "bring stability and predictability" to the city's finances, sending the package to Gov. Christie.

   The long awaited package of bills, stalled since December amid political wranglng and an unsettled labor situation at the Trump Taj Mahal, have been endorsed by both the casino industry and elected officials, including Mayor Don Guardian, who said the stabilized tax system under the new PILOT was better than defending against repeated tax appeals that have put the city near bankruptcy.

POSTED: Sunday, June 21, 2015, 7:49 PM
Singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 arrives to perform during a keynote address at the 2013 International CES at The Venetian on January 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Blake Shelton apparently had such a cool time in his wildly succesful free concert on the Atlantic City beach last summer that he went back to The Voice and told all his friends. Or at least Adam Levine.

In a big coup for the ailing but suddenly musically resurgent Atlantic City, sources confirmed Sunday that Maroon 5 and Nick Jonas will be performing on the beach Aug. 16th. But unlike last summer, tickets will not be free. Maroon 5 is not touring this summer, but will make a special appearance just because, well, Atlantic City. 

The country group Rascal Flatts is also reportedly looking at gracing the old seaside survivor with a second beach concert, date to be announced, also paid tickets, but nothing final has been inked. 

POSTED: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 2:11 PM
The Bella

The Bella, a product of a more optimistic time in Atlantic City, is one of the city's only truly luxury condo high-rise buildings. A block from the ocean at 526 Pacific Ave., units used to sell for close to $500K back in the heady years of, say, 2008. Lately, as Atlantic City's economy tanked, nearby Revel and Showboat closed, and the neighborhood stagnated, prices have dropped precipitously, with some unit asking prices sinking (way) below $200,000.

Now, Credit Suisse Bank, which owns 40 of the units, most on upper floors with ocean views, is getting out, says Bob Dann, of Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co., and is offering the units at absolute auction. The first 15 units will have no minimum bid or hidden reserve, and will be an interesting test of how low Atlantic City's beleaguered market will sink, even with an ocean view.

"They’ll probably sell for significantly discounted price," Dann said. "In the end, they’re a very luxury building, the amenities are top notch: the pool, the spa. In the end, it’s a block and half from the beach. If you can get a block and a half from the beach with views of the ocean, for next to nothing, you’re in good shape."

POSTED: Monday, June 1, 2015, 12:59 PM
Blatstein is set to plunk down $50 million of his own money - not including the $2.7 million he paid to buy it - to breathe new life into the Pier Shops at Caesars and make it Atlantic City's must-go-to attraction. (Rendering by Tower Investments and Steelman Partners)

   Unlike a lot of other big announcements in Atlantic City, Bart Blatstein's The Playground looks like it's actually happening. The Philadelphia developer is still planning to be open by his promised July 4th weekend _ tentatively set for June 26th _ for the reworked music and food venue, which he is modeling after music row in Nashville or 6th Street in Austin. 

   Monday, Blatstein announced that Jose Garces, whose succesful ventures at the Revel _ the Guapos Taco truck, Amada and Distrito, were abruptly TKO'ed by virtue of the now-closed casino hotel's abyssmal performance, subsequent bankruptcy and sale to Glenn Straub, will provide all the food at the new venues at The Playground. (Stephen Starr's Buddakan and Continental will remain on the third floor).

About this blog

Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg has covered Philly police, city neighborhoods, Ed Rendell as mayor, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City, Miss America and the psychology of Eagles fans. She moved to Ventnor on July 3, 1995, which makes her a local, but not really.

Inquirer Staff Writer Jacqueline L. Urgo has spent every summer of her life at the Jersey Shore, and has lived there year-round for nearly 30 years, even fulfilling one of her bucket list dreams by once living in a house by the sea.

Since 1990, she has covered the waterfront for The Inquirer — from the Atlantic to the Delaware Bay shore — and some of the mainland in between. Along the way, she amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of this tear-it-down-and-build-it-back-up region, delving into the history and the hype of a place with a lot of unexpected stories to tell.

Amy S. Rosenberg
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