Monday, March 2, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 4:49 PM
Pier Shops. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)

More from Bart Blatstein's Atlantic City adventure: On Tuesday, some tenants of the beleaguered PierShops at Caesars came forward to blast Caesars for challenging the Philadelphia developer's right to redevelop the half-empty former luxury mall that juts out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Blatstein, considered the mastermind behind the revival of Northern Liberties, paid $2.7 million to assume the mall's leases and has big plans for the place, but Caesars is now saying they never gave their approval. Caesars is owed more than $1 million in back rents as owner of the land itself, if not the structure on top of it, which cost $200 million to build.

"The place is beautiful and has so much potential," said Jaimie Hannigan, owner of White Lotus, a clothing store at the Pier Shops. She was also a past marketing direcotr with the Lyons Group which opened the Pier in 2006. She Caesars is "not now and never ... truly interested in seeing the Pier Shops prosper."

POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2015, 5:29 PM
The $200 million Pier Shops at Caesars were a big part of efforts to expand Atlantic City's appeal beyond gambling. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein's heralded entry into Atlantic City has hit an inconvenient snag: Caesars Atlantic City now claims he is a “rogue occupier” of the PierShops he wants to redevelop. 

In an odd series of court filings, Blatstein appears to have become ensnared in a fight with Kevin Ortzman, the president of Caesars Atlantic City, which still owns the actual pier and says Blatstein is trespassing until they say he’s not.

Blatstein paid $2.7 million late last year for the right to assume the lease for the troubled high end mall that juts out over the ocean, which Blatstein says he wants to transform into an entertainment venue modeled after places in Nashville, Austin and Las Vegas.

POSTED: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 11:30 AM
The sale of the bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel to Brookfield Asset Management for $110 million fell through Wednesday. A New York meeting Monday will try to save the deal. (STEPHANIE AARONSON / Philly.com)

A lot of names and possibilities were thrown out at the Casino Commission Control hearing Thursday at which Hard Rock International of Florida, a company owned by the Seminole Indians, took steps to fast track a state gaming license. CEO Jim Allen, who grew up in the area and worked at local casinos, says the company had submitted a bid in January for Revel and, more recently, had held "unofficial conversations" with Glenn Straub, the maverick businessman set to assume control of Revel, the closed $2.5 billion casino resort he purchased on a $95 million bid.

"It's certainly very intriguing just from an economic standpoint of a $2 1/2 billion building being purchased for $94 million," Allen said after the hearing of the Revel possibilities. He also said the company was interested "100 percent" in any opportunities that would arise in North Jersey if the state ultimately allowed that. That would not preclude an Atlantic City involvement, he said. Hard Rock holds the rights to any eventual gaming at Meadowlands Race Track.

The Control Commission unanimously granted the company a "Certificate of Compliance" that would fast track a casino license should the company apply for one. It does not currently own property in Atlantic City. "We've certainly been watching, like a lot of operators," Allen added of Revel.

POSTED: Monday, January 12, 2015, 9:50 AM

ATLANTIC CITY - The new method of casino taxation under consideration by state legislators could have an unintended casualty: the highly regarded Atlantic City Free Public Library.

State legislators acknowledged Thursday that the Atlantic City recovery bills, as currently written, would leave the library in the lurch for much of its current $5 million budget. Library director Maureen Sherr-Frank said Thursday that it would remove 70 percent of the funding.

POSTED: Monday, January 5, 2015, 10:47 AM

 The DoAC group itself may soon be done, but Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance marketing group, said Monday morning she was leaving her $400,000 post, ahead of legislation being considered to divert its funding. 

"As you all so painfully know, Atlantic City is in a time of transition and all its major insitutions are proactivly adapting to a new reality," Cartmell wrote in an email this morning addressed "To my AC friends."

POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 9:48 AM
The sale of the bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel to Brookfield Asset Management for $110 million fell through Wednesday. A New York meeting Monday will try to save the deal. (STEPHANIE AARONSON / Philly.com)

    The failed Revel casino has yet to execute a sale of the property. But its outstanding tax bill at least will be bought, at Revel's typical deep discount. The $32.5 million tax lien against the shuttered Revel casino that failed to sell at a city tax sale this month will be bought by Wells Fargo in a settlement for $26 million, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said Monday.

     In addition, Guardian said, the anonymous buyer of the $22 million tax lien against Trump Entertainment Resorts at the Dec. 11 sale has paid the cash-starved city. The city had put up for sale about $59 million in tax liens, which give the purchaser the right to foreclose in two years if property owners do not reimburse them for the paid tax bill. Wells Fargo is the chief lender to Revel and is bankrolling the bankrupt casino as it tries to execute a sale. It had made offers to the city prior to the Dec. 11 tax sale that were turned down.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 11:51 AM
Charlie Birnbaum stands in the living room of his parents home at 311 Oriental Avenue in Atlantic City. New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) is trying to use eminent domain to seize the property as part of a “mixed-use development” project to “complement” the recently bankrupt Revel Casino. (RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)

Charlie Birnbaum, the piano tuner who is fighting to keep his family home in Atlantic City from being seized by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, delivered a petition with 100K signatures to Gov. Christie on Wednesday. Plus, his lawyers are now arguing that Christie's plans for Atlantic City make the CRDA's efforts to seize his home even more questionable. 

The petition, which has been gathering signatures on Change.org, includes 7,000 signatures from New Jersey and signatures from as far aaway as Chile, Greece, Russia, South Africa and India, according to a press release from Birnbaum's attorneys with Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which has long fought against Eminent Domain. 

"I wish the New Jersey state government would open its eyes to this injustice," Birnbaum said in a statement. "Something like this should never happen anywhere, but especially not here in America."


POSTED: Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10:55 AM

News from Duneboggle land, in which the City of Margate has filed suit to halt the state of New Jersey and the U.S. Army Corps from initiating a beach replenishment project that will involve building dunes on Margate's flat beaches:

U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb has extended her order barring the state from awarding a contract for a $74 million beach replenishment project after bidders agreed to extend their bids until Jan. 26. The bids for the contract, which will be awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, had been set to expire this month. The state Department of Environmental Protection, in its rush to meet that deadline, had seized Margate's public easements by filing an administrative order with the County  _ a process Judge Bumb rejected during a hearing this month. She advised the state to inititate eminent domain proceedings that would allow Margate to formally object.

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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