PRNewswire – The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s plans to transition Atlantic City toward a multifaceted economy is building significant momentum, with major progress already being made since 2011 to diversify the city’s economy and several multimillion dollar development projects currently in the works. The Atlantic City Tourism District is on pace to attract more than $1 billion in investments, with $700 million in projects completed since 2011 and another $475 million in development that is targeted for completion in the coming months.
New and recent developments range from retail establishments and residential offerings; to adaptive re-use and re-openings of casino properties; to new non-gaming attractions, upgrades and expansions to existing, operating casino resorts; to street enhancements and beautification projects that will improve the overall visitor experience and residents’ quality of life.
“There has never been a better time to invest in Atlantic City,” said John F. Palmieri, Executive Director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), during a keynote speech today at the 2014 New Jersey Conference on Housing and Economic Development. “While most of the focus this summer has been on the casino closures, the great untold story is the significant progress Atlantic City is making to diversify and balance our economy. With four miles of pristine beach and boardwalk, world-class facilities and property ready for redevelopment, Atlantic City has a strong foundation for attracting new businesses, investments and attractions.”
Following the opening of Jimmy Buffet’s successful new $70 million Margaritaville complex, development is under way for the highly anticipated Best of Bass Pro shop, a $34 million project that will offer visitors and residents 86,000 square feet of destination retail. The store is scheduled to open in Spring 2015. The Public Market, a 30,000 square foot indoor market that will feature local farmers, merchants and restaurants, is expected to break ground in downtown Atlantic City in late 2014.
Numerous housing developments are either under construction or on the drawing board. Boraie Development is building a $30 million mixed-used development that is scheduled for completion in December 2015. Procida Realty & Construction Corporation is building both single family homes and townhouses in Atlantic City. The Breakers at Atlantic City will have 12 luxury oceanfront residential townhomes built along the Boardwalk, with 140 more units planned for a future phase.
The CRDA has acquired and assembled tracts of land that are ready for redevelopment, particularly in the South Inlet area of the city where the finishing touches are being put on a greenway for walkers and bicyclists connecting the Boardwalk with Absecon Lighthouse.
Expansions and Renovations
Existing casino resorts are also investing in Atlantic City’s future, Mr. Palmieri said. Tropicana is in the midst of a four-phase $35 million renovation project encompassing hotel, retail and Boardwalk improvements. Harrah’s Resort is building a $126 million Waterfront Conference Center that is slated to open in September 2015. Caesars Entertainment, the Borgata and Golden Nugget have invested $40 million, $50 million and $150 million respectively on property renovations and improvements. In addition, Steel Pier, the seaside Boardwalk attraction, is undergoing a $10 million rehaul to bring new rides, food and beverage outlets and the East Coast’s largest observation wheel.
Clean and Safe Initiative
The CRDA has also mounted a robust $34 million “Clean and Safe” initiative that has begun to make a significant impact, according to Mr. Palmieri. Improvements range from new lighting and tourism ambassadors on the Boardwalk to a series of well-landscaped parks and storefront façade improvements in gateway areas.
In addition to the current projects underway, the CRDA has been readying additional available land for new developments and investors, with more than 10 acres of lots primed for investment. Non-gaming spending in Atlantic City has grown even as gross gaming has declined due to oversaturation in the region, indicating that there is a market in Atlantic City for more non-gaming amenities and developments. The CRDA is also working with property owners to identify investors and operators for the recently closed casino properties.
According to an independent analysis by Tourism Economics, a consulting firm that analyzes tourism in state, national and international markets, the Atlantic City Tourism District had built positive momentum during its first 3.5 years. More than two-thirds (67.8 percent) of visitor spending is now non-gaming. Cash sales at non-gaming outlets, for example, now account for 28.5 percent of visitor spending at casino properties, up from 22.3 percent two years earlier. Luxury tax receipts – particularly in such non-gaming activities as nightlife activities and shows – also show strong gains across all seasons.
On the heels of successful summer events and entertainment including major beach concerts, the Atlantic City Airshow, A-list entertainers and the Miss America Competition, the CRDA also approved an incentive package of up to $1 million for concert promoter Live Nation to book at least a dozen big-name concerts and events at Boardwalk Hall in a one-year period.
“I have great confidence in the future of Atlantic City,” said Mr. Palmieri, who has helped spearhead major redevelopment projects in Boston, Providence and Hartford, CT. “We have a master plan in place that’s already showing visible results, and we have the necessary financial resources, workforce and real estate availability to attract new investments and businesses.”
About the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) www.njcrda.com
The only agency of its kind nationwide, the CRDA has used Atlantic City casino reinvestments as a catalyst for meaningful, positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents statewide, investing over $2.1 billion in more than 400 projects statewide since 1984. Under the 2011 Tourism District Act, CRDA’s mission evolved from statewide projects to becoming the state’s key economic development agency for Atlantic City. CRDA responsibilities expanded to include Land Use Regulation, Clean and Safe initiatives, group and leisure tourism marketing, attracting and retaining conventions and meetings at the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall, and partnership with the Atlantic City Alliance to brand and market Atlantic City. CRDA is the first destination marketing organization in New Jersey to achieve prestigious Destination Marketing Accreditation by the Destination Marketing Association International.