There’s a sign on the locked gate of Garden Pier at the far end of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. It reads “PierAC – coming July 2017”. The pier’s landscaping is unkempt. Nothing seems to be going on in the way of development. (Read our June 23 update here).
Atlantic City sold the pier and two parcels alongside the Showboat Hotel to the Showboat’s owner, Bart Blatstein, earlier this year. Blatstein, reached by phone on Friday, said he will hold a press conference later in the year, probably after the summer, to talk about his plans. He doesn’t want to talk about them now, publicly, he said. When asked whether that meant there will be something more to announce, he said – simply – “Yes.”
Blatstein got a $33.8 million loan from Canadian lender Romspen early last year, property records show. The total purchase price of Garden Pier, the property alongside Showboat and a package of real estate on the other side of The Ocean at 101 Boardwalk came to just shy of $6 million. That would give Blatstein plenty of dry powder for renovation and – possibly – more purchases*.
The Showboat will host Atlantic City’s Seafood Festival in September. The festival will be set up on Blatstein’s recently-purchased land alongside the hotel, which was once used by the city as volleyball courts. A city official told The Press of Atlantic City earlier this year that Blatstein pitched them a plan to use the courts for a $40 million “multi-use event center” (read that story here).
His plans for the package of property in the Inlet are less clear. And the future of Garden Pier – or PierAC – is a mystery.
Blatstein, who owns a summer home in Margate, has been heralded as a savior for bringing non-casino investment to Atlantic City. He has also been criticized for failing to live up to promises such as filling the Playground Pier – the eternally struggling ocean property across from Caesars – with new tenants.
This article was reported on LocalNewsFirst WIBBAGE 20/20, as part of Route 40’s collaboration with South Jersey media partners.
*This calculation leaves aside the running costs for the Playground Pier and the Showboat. The Pier, across from Caesars, has long struggled to find tenants and the Showboat, although staffed and open, was empty on Friday night.