The Legal Fight Behind Atlantic City’s Hot Pink Mess

Atlantic City’s Ducktown Arts District has a new fuchsia warehouse, courtesy of Jimmy DiNatale, its colorful owner, who is in the process of suing everyone’s favorite state agency, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, over what he says is CRDA’s failure to disclose environmental contamination on the site, where he’d planned to open a Hooters and a sports bar. Last year, while lawyers for DiNatale and CRDA were writing pointed letters to one another, a group of intravenous drug users set up residence in the empty warehouse at 2231 Arctic Avenue, and the property began to fill up with syringes. The pathway between the warehouse and the neighboring Noyes Arts Garage—where last summer Mayor Guardian hosted a tie-your-own-bowtie event and kids played—became littered with drug paraphernalia. Earlier this winter, Mo Colon and Gladys Coppage, two artists who work out of the Arts Garage, noticed the spike in the number of syringes and took it upon themselves to do some cleanup around the warehouse. They found surgical gloves, ER records, tampons, needles, etc.

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Boardwalk Hall Starbucks To Offer Outdoor Seating

The new Starbucks set to open at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall will have outdoor seating, according to a license agreement signed last week. It is not clear exactly when the Starbucks cafe will open. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in October agreed to chip in just shy of $600,000 to help refit the space at the entrance to Boardwalk Hall, with Starbucks paying a further $700,000. CRDA is also paying $2 million to rebuild bathrooms in Boardwalk Hall that have been unused for decades, but will presumably be available for Starbucks customers. Route 40 reported last month that attendance at Boardwalk Hall has been declining.

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Margate Dune Work: Scheduled All Summer!

Work to fill Margate’s beaches and build dunes will begin just before Memorial Day and run through Labor Day, according to a document published on Margate City’s website here. The city and some Margate homeowners went to court to try and prevent the dunes, but a judge in February ruled the project could go ahead. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last year awarded a contract worth up to $76.1 million to Weeks Marine Inc to repair dunes in Atlantic City and Ventnor and to finish building dunes in Margate and Longport. The Army Corps of Engineers and Weeks Marine will “make efforts to accommodate” Margate’s July 4th fireworks, the city document says. The city will also discuss moving its beach patrol building in front of dunes when the project is complete, the document says.

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Taj Mahal Deal Value Means High Reconstruction Costs

Hard Rock International and the Morris and Jingoli families will invest more than $300 million to reopen the shuttered Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, with the bulk of that money spent on reconstruction, according to financial documents. The Hard Rock, Jingoli and Morris team have not disclosed the price they paid to purchase the property, but it is not likely to be more than the $86 million combined valuation for both the Taj and Trump Plaza that their owner reported in a quarterly results statement on Wednesday. The Taj Mahal, opened to big fanfare in 1990 by Donald Trump, closed its doors to a trickle of customers in October, capping the end of a lengthy labor dispute with Local 54 UniteHere. Icahn Enterprises, the holding company of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, reported on Wednesday the value of its investment in the Taj and Trump Plaza fell $32 million to just $86 million at the end of December from September last year. The two properties were valued at $206 million just a few months earlier at the end of June.

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Stockton Seeking Boardwalk Coffee Shop For AC Student Building

Stockton University is seeking a coffee shop to occupy a boardwalk-fronting retail space in its planned $100-million-dollar student-residence building in Atlantic City, according to a document published on Friday. The University’s request-for-qualifications (RFQ) is the most recent step in the realization of a total $200 million project that is set to bring massive change to the southern end of the city within a couple of years. Prospective tenants must be regional or national brands, with at least five years’ business experience, according to the document (here). The coffee shop will be permitted to sell food that requires ‘limited cooking’ – since the University will be looking for a restaurant operator to move into a larger retail space in the same building. The coffee shop is one of three total retail spaces in the residence building, which is set to become home to 533 students in August 2018.

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Stockton In Talks For Atlantic City’s Bader Field

Stockton University is in “preliminary talks” to develop* some or all of Atlantic City’s Bader Field, according to people with knowledge of the matter. If the university were to occupy the site, it would further extend Galloway-based Stockton’s reach in Atlantic City, where it is building a residential campus, parking garage and academic center scheduled to open in 2018. The university is considering using the Bader Field site for a marine sciences and resiliency center, one of the people said. University President Harvey Kesselman discussed the idea as part of wider plans for the university in a presentation to Stockton foundation board members last week. Kesselman has had talks with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian about buying* some of the site, one other person said.

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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.

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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.

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Twilight Zone

 What’s Keeping the South Inlet Empty? In mid-August of last summer a real estate investor from Florida named Bruce Pender bought a small plot of land in the South Inlet neighborhood of Atlantic City. He paid $25,000 to acquire 206 S. Vermont Avenue, tax records show. The old owner, Seaview Property Development of Turnersville, had been sitting on the land since 2005. In real estate terms, this was one of the rarest commodities going: beachfront land about an hour’s drive from Philadelphia—two and a half hours (give or take) from New York City.

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