A lot has been happening on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City since a trio with a vision announced a plan this spring to create multiple hangout spots for locals and visitors on the beach block. But most of the activity has been behind closed doors.
Atlantic City’s Garden Pier, purchased earlier this year by Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, will be reopening next month as a locals-focused entertainment venue with live music and a bar area. In the shadow of the still-shuttered mega-casino Revel and not far from Blatstein’s Showboat hotel, the newly renamed PierAC plans to draw Atlantic County residents with a reward-card program and drink specials – plus entertainment.
There have been many different plans for reviving Atlantic City’s fortunes, but one consistent idea has been to make more of the island city’s proximity to the water. This year, new tenants at the former Atlantic City Boatyard are launching two new businesses that will give that a go.
Paul St. James has a campground along the Mays Landing-Somers Point road, but he lives most of the year in Phoenix. Over the winter he was watching a lot of tiny-home TV shows. “They have an entire channel. Fifty percent of the time they sell vacuum cleaners and the other fifty percent of the time they show mini homes.”
A plan to open a beer garden on Atlantic City’s boardwalk is one step closer to launch after a public hearing last month. The planning officer for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which oversees the boardwalk and tourism district, last week recommended the beer garden project to CRDA’s board for approval. The board’s next meeting is on Tuesday. Some of the existing construction on the site was being demolished this Tuesday, presumably to make way for the beer garden. The company behind the project, Dectrinity, already runs the Bungalow beach bar and the Boardwalk bar next door to the proposed beer garden site at the corner with California Avenue.
The Rodeway Inn along the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township could be revived as garden apartments and townhouses, according to a developer’s plan that will go before EHT’s planning board on Monday. Eastern Pacific Development is seeking preliminary site plan approval for an affordable housing project that would turn the existing 77-unit motel into one-and two-bedroom garden apartments. Nine additional townhouses with two- and three- bedroom units would also be built, according to the planning board agenda. The developer is also proposing to demolish an existing office building on the site and add a children’s play area and a community area. “There’s a significant need for affordable housing right now,” said Hans Alpert, chief executive of Eastern Pacific Development.
Damon Germano and Gabrielle Cianfrani just wanted to make a better cup of coffee. Somewhere along the line, their personal mission turned into a business. Now, from a corner of Pleasantville not far from the old Ireland Coffee Company plant, Boardwalk Beans is roasting small batches of carefully-selected coffee for retail and wholesale customers. Germano used to work for Ireland, back when Ireland had a small store in one of the Atlantic City casinos. “I was really into coffee, I had the beret, the turtleneck – the whole thing,” he said.
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.
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.