Tiny Bottles, Absent Owners

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Here is a small plot of land in Atlantic City’s Tourism District that happens to serve as a collection point for a lot of disused liquor bottles.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I have nothing against park-drinking. In fact, I’ve been known to do a bit of it myself.

But some of the neighbors do say the bottles are bad for morale. One of them even sent in this photo after we were poking around the bus stop.

According to property records, the land is owned by RIH NJ Holdings, a New Jersey LLC, “C/O Colony Cap.”

That’s RIH (as in “Resorts International Hotels” though they’re no relation to the current owners of the Resorts casino), which is headquartered at 660 Madison Avenue, as in the Madison Avenue in New York City where Don Draper works. Colony Capital was a private equity firm founded by Tom Barrack, who I was going to say was a billionaire and one of the richest people in America but I guess he’s only like the 375th richest person in America and apparently not even a billionaire anymore.

He seems to spend a lot of his time skiing and playing polo and advising his friend and fellow Atlantic City real estate veteran, the President of the United States, Donald Trump. So I guess we can’t blame him if he’s let the old net worth slide a little while enjoying the finer things.

A year or so ago, Colony merged with another big real estate investor to form a REIT that has assets under management of, like, $58 billion, so what should they care particularly about a property on Atlantic Avenue amid a sea of parking lots, in the shadow of a closed casino.

If you post a video of an empty lot full of little vodka bottles on social media, people are apt to shake their heads knowingly about Atlantic City residents and the town’s intractable problems. But the owners of 3320 Atlantic Ave. aren’t Atlantic City residents, and the agency overseeing the property is not accountable to city voters either. The property’s in the Tourism District, meaning it’s under the purview of the CRDA.

According to the Hanson report, which was co-written by Al Leiter, who was a great baseball announcer, a factor contributing to Atlantic City’s “decline” was its perception as “unclean and unsafe, and the failure of City government to effectively address such concerns (including blight and the overall image of the City) at any level or to work effectively with the industry to create a tourist‐friendly environment.” That was 2011.

Is it me or was maybe the Tourism District or the takeover or etc. etc. never about cleanliness or safety or intractable residents at all? And if not what was it about?

A message with the CRDA was not returned.

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