October 21, 2016

CRDA, Miss America And Boardwalk Hall

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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.”

“It’s average space at best and is located in the ‘back-of-house’ area of Boardwalk Hall,” wrote a CRDA spokesman in an email. Spectra is chipping in $35,500 to repaint the walls and replace the carpeting, according to CRDA.

The price of the space is $10 a square foot on a yearly rental basis, CRDA said via email, adding that it is preferable for the development agency to rent the space to a contractual partner. The CRDA did not immediately respond to a question about how the rate was calculated and it was not clear how long the lease was for.

CRDA sponsors the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, which has attracted controversy for its high cost and low television viewing figures. The Miss America Organization also attracted national attention from John Oliver this year. The organization gave out $323,500 in scholarships in 2014, but reported $8.9 million in revenue (and it ended that year with negative $1.6 million in its accounts).

The nonprofit employs between 11 and 50 people, according to its LinkedIn profile. Some of its executives are in Missouri, according to its most recent 2014 tax statement. You can review that statement at the end of this post.

Separately, CRDA said a Starbucks would open in Boardwalk Hall, fronting on the boardwalk and making a casino-style investment in the building’s appearance. “CRDA will contribute $589,709 towards design, engineering, and outfitting that space with additional mechanical, electrical, plumbing and a new entry door.  Starbucks will contribute an additional $700,000 towards improvements,” according to the statement. The authority did not disclose the details of that lease agreement.

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