NJ Spotlight thinks New Jersey has a shot at luring Amazon, seeking a home for its second corporate headquarters, and “even Atlantic City” could draw interest. AC’s attraction would be partly because it’s a designated growth zone and companies making investments in the city are eligible for more tax breaks from the state’s Economic Development Authority.
Outside interests with deep pockets want a say in Atlantic City’s mayoral election – why? We dug deep into the campaign filings made by Democratic Mayoral Candidate Frank Gilliam during his primary run and found some clues.
William K. Cheatham attends most of the meetings of the City Council of Atlantic City. He attends the board meetings of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. He is president of the Board of Trustees of the Atlantic City Free Public Library, a member of the Shade Tree Committee and an alternate on the board of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority. He was active in the First Ward Civic Association and was a regular at the meetings of the city Taxpayers Association (which reviewed the municipal budget) but those organizations no longer assemble on a regular basis. He’s a former member of the county construction board.
As an Atlantic City and Atlantic County resident there are things I’ve noticed:
It seems to me, the state takeover did not become unconstitutional within the county offices until it impacted negatively on the amount of money the county would receive. What was it before? It seems to me, people in Atlantic City are getting tickets and don’t even see the meters. To many, they don’t look like meters, and aren’t at every spot. We should take lessons from successful towns up and down the coast and suspend parking fees in the winter, with possible exceptions, like the walk area, or holiday weekends. In winter, we inhabit a virtual ghost town and have few visitors.
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.
The Casino Association of New Jersey last year hired Philip Norcross, brother of Democrat power-broker George, to lobby the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) on the topic of “economic development,” according to lobbying records. In recent years, Atlantic City casinos have received millions of dollars from CRDA for investments in their own properties, but last year, as part of the city takeover legislation, CRDA saw that chunk of its budget diverted to pay off city debt. A spokeswoman for The Casino Association of New Jersey, which includes all seven of Atlantic City’s remaining gaming properties, declined to give any details on its lobbying activity. A spokeswoman for CRDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Norcross did not return messages left on Friday. The lobbying records show that Norcross’ Optimus Partners also lobbied the legislature on behalf of the Casino Association on the topic of the takeover legislation.
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.
The Pinelands Commission – a state authority that oversees an area of South Jersey bigger than Rhode Island – has decided to put off any decision on a $1 billion pipeline proposal presented by a consortium that includes South Jersey Gas. The commission – which isn’t really known for leadership or transparency – failed to give details on exactly what it will do, but there will be some kind of public comment period, NJ Spotlight reports. The PennEast Pipeline, which is supposed to stretch from Luzerne County, PA to Mercer County, NJ, and bring the area cheaper gas, has already been held up by federal authorities after late route changes. It’s not clear whether the Pinelands Commission’s review could further hold up the pipeline project, along with another one that was proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas. CRDA Reshuffle
It’s old news that the outgoing director of our other local state authority, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will get a golden parachute of a quarter of a million dollars, or one year’s salary.
Something is happening down in Atlantic City’s Inlet neighborhood. A machine has appeared and some serious fencing has gone up around two vacant blocks. It’s not quite on the scale of the Gateway Project yet, but it looks like Boraie Development’s plan to build 250 rental units in one of Atlantic City’s most persistently development-starved neighborhoods is getting underway. Better known to some as Pauline’s Prairie or the mother ship of Atlantic City’s vacant lots, the site has been empty for 50 years. The project – dubbed The Beach at South Inlet – is set to include a gym, lounge, pool, parking, restaurants, shops and – yes – a grocery store alongside the housing units, but it has been slow to advance from initial plans laid out in 2013.
The Miss America Organization is getting 1,800 square feet of prime Atlantic City real estate from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for $1,500 a month, according to CRDA, but the nonprofit pageant says it’s not a done deal. “We are currently in discussions, and there is no further information at this time,” said a spokesperson for the Miss America Organization in an email, after we sent them a copy of a CRDA press release announcing their new office-space arrangement. Miss America Organization currently has office space at The Claridge and it was not immediately clear what would happen to that space. CRDA said the lease, which will start in April, was signed between the organization and Spectra Venue Management, which operates Boardwalk Hall and The Convention Center. When we questioned the price of the lease, they told us that the office space is “not upscale or highly visible and it features no windows.”