After casino operator Hard Rock International revealed an arms-length wish list in May, on Tuesday a company executive said its soon to be revitalized Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will open by Memorial Day weekend.
Over the next year, the former Trump Taj Mahal will undergo nearly a year’s worth of renovation converting the existing Indian palace-themed property into one of the Orlando-based hotel and casino operator’s rock ’n’ roll themed casino resorts.
The Press of Atlantic City citing Joe Emanuele, Hard Rock International senior vice president of design and construction, said during a Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) board meeting that they [Hard Rock International] hope to begin demolition by July, with full construction to follow in August.
The purpose of Hard Rock International’s appearance before the board was to apply for an entertainment retail district around the Atlantic City property. The property was purchased by Hard Rock from billionaire investor Carl Icahn earlier this year for the bargain price of $50 million, according to federal records, after Icahn shuttered the casino amid a strike that crippled the casino.
CRDA Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy said, “The planned renovations will transform the 4.2 million square feet of defunct casino hotel space into a state-of-the-art casino, hotel, retail, dining, and entertainment facility, increasing employment opportunities and strengthening Atlantic City and New Jersey’s economies.”
The district designation would reportedly entitle the company to various tax breaks including a rebate on sales and use taxes on the building’s construction materials and its luxury tax from hotel-room fees for a period of 20 years or until such time as the total rebate amount is equal to the cost of the project, according to the Atlantic City news agency.
Mayor Don Guardian said the entertainment retail designation, “takes no income from the city.”
Of the 11 entertainment retail districts the city is eligible for, Mulcahy said the city currently has five; one less than it had prior to the closing of the Reve in September, he added. The application requires a public hearing but has yet to be scheduled, according to the news release.
Hard Rock Chairman, Jim Allen, placed significant emphasis on the re-branding of the property. He said, “We are committed to a minimum of $500m that we’re going to put back into that building. It does us no good to put some guitars on the wall and new carpets, and say, ‘I can take 5 or 10% of the business from Resorts or Harrah’s’,” according to the news release.
Hard Rock International Inc. along with investors Jack Morris and Joe Jingoli plan to invest $500 million into the renovation and rebranding of the property. Emanuele said he thinks that the renovation and rebranding will not only benefit the company but the surrounding buildings as well. He said, “We are trying to create a unique vibe.”
Hard Rock expects that more than 1,000 construction jobs and some 3,000 permanent jobs will result from the project. The revitalized Atlantic City property is expected to offer skill-based slots, hidden VIP gambling rooms, fantasy sports betting, and poolside and restaurant gambling.