It’s No Longer the ‘Trump’ Taj Mahal

Trump Taj Mahal

Our touchy president’s name (“Trump”) has been removed from Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal Casino, the Eighth Wonder of the World. The casino has been owned by Carl Icahn, who closed it last fall, out of spite (JK!). But Trump had an agreement to keep his name on the classy property. Apparently that’s changed. Here’s a facade of the Taj as it looked in August 2016.

More about:

A Bistro With Big Ambition

Michael Brennan’s first job out of high school was at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia. He says he walked into the restaurant at age 18, in an ill-fitting shirt, to find Chef Georges Perrier standing in the door. Perrier hired him on the spot to work front-of-house, probably because restaurant week was coming up and they were about to get slammed. Now 24, Michael’s got his own restaurant, Cardinal Bistro, in Ventnor, but he still seems to have a sense of timing.In the middle of what was supposed to be a “soft opening” this summer, the restaurant critic Craig LaBan wrote a review calling him “one of the young chefs to watch this year at the Shore.” Suddenly, the kitchen was full-throttle.

More about: , , , , , , ,

Baltimore Grill Sale Close?

The hot chat Saturday night during our bike bar crawl was that the “Wet Willie’s Consortium” is buying the Baltimore Grill—Atlantic City’s iconic, much beloved and completely miraculous spaghetti-and-pizza restaurant—from the Tarsitanos and Riches, who have owned it for decades. The Baltimore Grill is impossible to describe (for me anyway) objectively. It’s like a scene from Mean Streets (this one) has been lifted out of 1973 and carried forward through time to be dropped down across the street from the school where you went to kindergarten. It’s an institution. Wet Willie’s sells slushies spiked with high-octane rum out of big swirly vats, like you see on Spring Break.

More about: ,

Meet The People Behind #ThisIsAC

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook lately and you’re in the Atlantic City area, you’ve probably come across the bold red logo or seen the hashtag #ThisIsAC. Maybe, like us, you thought it was some marketing effort by one of our many quasi-governmental overlords in these parts. But you, like us, would be wrong. #ThisIsAC was formed by a few people who just really, really care about Atlantic City. We went to meet them.

More about: ,

Trampoline Park To Open In Mays Landing This Fall

As a recent transplant to Atlantic County with two kids in tow, it didn’t take long before I could join in with local parents, kids and – even – politicians lamenting how it can sometimes feel like there’s little to do around here when the beach isn’t an option. So imagine me, whiling away an evening reading some planning board minutes, when the name of a business looking for a resolution just jumps out at me: Trampoline Park Consulting. Oh yes, I thought. THAT would make me happier. And my kids happier.

More about:

Where Did Taj Gamblers Go?

When workers from the Trump Taj Mahal went on strike in July, other casinos in Atlantic City had an opportunity to move in on its customers. So where did those gamblers go? Tropicana increased its gaming market share the most, to 13.7 percent in the second half of last year – the period that coincided with the Taj’s strike and closure – compared to 12.5 percent in the second-half 2015. Over that six-month period, Tropicana’s casino revenue increased 13 percent to $190 million from $166 million in the year-earlier July-December period. Much of the muttering on the far end of the boardwalk during the strike centered around suspicion of a plan by Icahn Enterprises, the Taj’s owner, to close the casino in order to boost revenue at Tropicana, Icahn Enterprises’ other property.

More about: , , , , ,

Decade-Long NJ Casino Tax Slump Reverses, Thanks To Online Gaming

Atlantic City casino properties have closed, but the resort city’s biggest industry paid more into state coffers last year as its revenue increased. New Jersey’s tax revenue from the casino industry increased last year, as online gaming helped reverse a 10-year slump in casino taxes. Casinos paid the state $210.4 million in taxes and fees in the last fiscal year (July 2015-June 2016), up slightly from $206 million in the previous 12-month period, according to a Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) report published last month. The tax turnaround is a thin silver lining for New Jersey, which has seen its casino tax revenue eroded by more than two thirds from $500 million in 2006. Signs that Atlantic City’s main industry might be stabilizing after a 10-year freefall will also be scant consolation to the beachside town’s taxpayers, now facing a state takeover of the city’s finances that has already raised homeowners’ taxes after NJ legislators cut casinos a sweetheart property tax deal earlier in the year. Although online gaming is just a fraction of total casino revenue, it helped lead the turnaround for the fiscal year 2016, according to data recorded by the DGE.

More about: , , , , , , ,

A Believer Rescues An Atlantic City Apartment Building

Mark Callazzo might just be the walking embodiment of everybody’s favorite car magnet around here. “AC – Don’t Stop Believing” appears to be the unspoken motto of the guy behind The Iron Room bar and restaurant, who is now close to completing the refurbishment of an entire building the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority had been set to demolish. Studio and one- and two-bedroom Apartments at 1 N. Boston Ave will be available in January, Callazzo said when he took us on a tour of the building earlier this month. You can watch our video from the tour below. “I like Atlantic City, I believe in its future,” Callazzo said, as he walked us around the building, which has views of the Atlantic ocean on one side and the bay on the other.

More about: ,

Downbeach Construction Boom Slows, Shifts Uptown

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy launched a private construction boom that is just starting to fade in the wealthier southernmost towns of Absecon Island, while the slow trickle of FEMA money now starting to come in means more construction and demolition is shifting to the northern end of the island. Certificates of occupancy for new homes are down in Margate and Longport this year through September, while data from state permits show demolition and construction has picked up this year in Ventnor and Atlantic City. You can download – for a small fee – here our full data set showing construction, demolition, certificates of occupancy and residential additions in Ventnor, Margate and Longport since 2010. !function(e,t,n,s){var i=”InfogramEmbeds”,o=e.getElementsByTagName(t),d=o[0],a=/^http:/.test(e.location)?”http:”:”https:”;if(/^\/{2}/.test(s)&&(s=a+s),window[i]&&window[i].initialized)window[i].process&&window[i].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var r=e.createElement(t);r.async=1,,r.src=s,d.parentNode.insertBefore(r,d)}}(document,”script”,”infogram-async”,”//”);
Create column charts
Ventnor has seen an unprecedented spate of new construction in the last 18 months, while new certificates of occupancy have slipped in Margate and Longport since last year. Jimmie Agnesino, construction code official in Ventnor, said the pickup in construction in the town is mostly due to the fact that FEMA money is now starting to reach homeowners.

More about:

Atlantic City Demolitions Climb, Reach Highest Since Financial Crisis

Atlantic City has demolished 79 housing units this year through September, more than double the rate of demolition in any year since the financial crisis. Public agencies tore down the most buildings, but state data show there have also been some private demolitions, which could indicate more construction will be starting in the city. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) has demolished more than half of the units as part of its ongoing city-wide demolition project. Another chunk of the units were demolished by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority (ACIA), through an agreement with the city to clear abandoned buildings. The number of units demolished by the public agencies, however, is below the total number of units demolished year to date, which suggests there has also been some private demolition work.

More about: ,