Will Revel reopen in June?

Revel Future
The giant ball atop Revel, here in a photo from 2012, was illuminated Monday night by owner Glenn Straub, who said he was testing it.

ATLANTIC CITY - Glenn Straub let there be light atop the Revel.

The big, iconic Revel ball, snuffed out in its infancy when the $2 billion casino closed in September 2014, was once again lit Monday night in a startling development that could signify - nothing.

Or it could signify that the enigmatic Straub, who bought the failed Atlantic City casino out of bankruptcy for $82 million last April, is taking concrete steps toward an actual reopening. He said Tuesday that he envisions 500 hotel rooms, some casino space, the original Revel restaurants and clubs, and a portion of a zip-line obstacle course opening June 15.

And, indeed, the big golf ball of an oddball symbol shone bright white on the Boardwalk on Monday night, visible from miles away.

The ball, which was the only branding on the tower itself, was the idea of Mitch Gorshin - son of Frank Gorshin, who played the Riddler on the 1960s TV show Batman - who worked as a marketing executive at the original Revel, which opened in April 2012.

And a riddle is what the Revel has turned into since Straub took over. He bought the building's energy company after months of fighting that for a time left him with a building that had no power.

Straub both downplayed the significance of the lit ball and predicted an ambitious reopening in June.

"That's just us playing around," he said. "To get it ready for June. We'll have horses going around the ball, a new name on the ball. We don't have any colors for it. We have to bring in the big boys now."

Kerry Langan of the Division of Gaming Enforcement said Straub had hired a prominent gaming attorney, Lloyd Levenson, who is working to get his application for a casino license completed. But Straub lacks a certificate of occupancy or any permits for reopening restaurants, the hotel, or construction, said Dale Finch, the city's licensing and inspection chief.

Chuck Bragitikos, president of Vibrant Development Group, which negotiated original terms for restaurants including Village Whiskey, Amada, the Mussel Bar, and Distrito, and retail shops and clubs (except for HQ Nightclub), said "there have been recent conversations" with Straub.

"I understand he has reached out," Bragitikos said. "Our position has always consistently been, we would love to reopen. Our venues were very successful at Revel. We would have to have the broader project make sense. We've always told Mr. Straub we'd love to support him opening as a casino, which it ought to be, and a resort, which it ought to be, and reinforce him."

He added, "I don't know if lighting the ball is significant. It shows there's power, which is encouraging."

Bragitikos said that a June reopening "would be very challenging" and that he had not seen concrete plans.

He said the property would need a "critical mass" of rooms, people, and casino space to be successful.

"It's an amazing asset that I think can be rejuvenated and come back to life," he said. "If the balance of the project makes sense, we're dying to reopen."

Straub said Tuesday that he was simply testing the ball - which lit white and not colors, so it was not a successful test, he said. He said a computer technician would be called in. But he insisted he was on track to reopen in June. He said he would want portions of the casino reopened, but acknowledged he does not have a casino license. But he said he might not need one as the owner of the property.

"We don't need a casino license, they can argue with us all they want," he said. "We're saying we don't have to have it. I'm the owner of the casino."

But he also said he could contract with a business that already has a casino permit. In any case, Langan, with gaming enforcement, said his application was in progress.

Straub said he was a little wary of reopening HQ and Ivan Kane's Royal Jelly Burlesque without restrictions on both. "We want to have control over who and what happens in this facility," he said.

Of HQ, he said, "They let too many things go on; we're going to control it ourselves."

Ivan Kane, who ran the club inside the Revel, recently announced he would be opening a nightclub inside the Tropicana. The marketing gurus who made HQ Nightclub a success have moved on to gigs at the Borgata, which is opening a new club, Premier, and Bart Blatstein's Playground, the former Pier Shops at Caesars, where a new nightclub, WAV, is also being planned.

Straub, whose plans for the property have swung wildly from a "tower of geniuses" to a home for Syrian refugees, and then to a massive zip line, water park and polo field, said Tuesday that he had settled on restaurants, hotel rooms, a small casino, and, for now, the "dry parts" of a year-round water park/obstacle course. He also said people would be "jumping out of airplanes."

"It'll be phenomenal," he said.

Finch said the city would welcome a reopening, and he awaited any action from Straub regarding permits, inspections, certificates.

"The ball was lit up, yes, it was," Finch said. "Now let's get some people in there."

arosenberg@phillynews.com

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