Atlantic City Fire Chief Gets $13K-Per-Month Pension

pants-drop

You remember former Atlantic City Fire Chief Dennis Brooks, right? We told you how he was accused of dropping his pants in front of a city employee — and, oh, not incidentally, a video camera as well?

Well, he’s retired. And he’s retiring well.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that Brooks will make $13,000 per month in retirement, his pension after spending 35 years with the fire department there. Read more »

Morning Headlines: Can Big Plans Really Save Atlantic City?

Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on June 5, 2013. The Revel opened on April 1, 2012 at a cost of 2.4 Billion dollars. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on June 5, 2013. The Revel opened on April 1, 2012 at a cost of 2.4 Billion dollars. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Man, it seems like every week we’re hearing about the latest game-changing plan for Atlantic City. First, it was Bart Blatstein, who recently settled his dispute with Caesar’s and announced plans for a mega-entertainment complex called The Playground. Dan McQuade reports that Glenn Straub finally (mercifully?) closed the deal to buy the beleaguered Revel Casino property for $82 million. Talk about buy low. Blatstein bought the $200 million Pier Shops for just over $2 million and now Straub nabs what was originally a $2.4 billion project for what amount to chump change in his line of business.

That’s apparently only the beginning for Straub, who plans to invest another $500 million into the home of Boardwalk Empire through a vision he’s calling The Phoenix Project. That plan includes (among other things) building Revel’s second tower and possibly an “extreme sports complex,” an air field for flying in high rollers and marinas for yachts. Jeez, and here we thought getting a huge ferris wheel at Steel Pier was a big deal for the city.

Buy low, aim high doesn’t only apply to those with access to millions of dollars. Take a casual stroll on Zillow and you, the homeowner looking for a beach house, can find yourself a great deal on beachfront property. Looking for a long play to get down the shore? Atlantic City may just be your best bet.

Fun (and Food) With Urban Gardening:

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Here Is Glenn Straub’s $500 Million Plan to Transform Atlantic City

Revel casino

Photo | Dan McQuade

Yes, it finally happened. Yesterday, a judge approved the sale of Revel to Florida developer Glenn Straub for $82 million. The failed casino cost $2.4 billion to construct. As multiple reports pointed out, that’s four cents on the dollar.

Per the Inquirer, Straub is staying in Revel’s room 327 until his yacht arrives at the Frank S. Farley Marina. But Straub has plans for Atlantic City that go past Revel. Here is a sampling of what he plans to do. He’s calling it The Phoenix Project. Read more »

Atlantic City Announces Gayest Entertainment Lineup Ever

atlantic city entertainment

Atlantic City is working overtime to get the gays down for a visit. This afternoon, Visit AC released a new video showcasing its entertainment lineup for 2015 and its chock full of gay and gay-adored entertainers. They’re pulling out the big guns, too. I’m talking Madonna (October 3rd), Lady Gaga (July 24th), Ricky Martin (October 17th), Wanda Sykes (June 12th and 13th), Margaret Cho (July 18th), Idina freaking Menzel (July 10th).What Ellen was too busy?

The concerts and comedy shows only scratch the surface of the other LGBT-specific events lined up for the summer. Others include Sandblast (July 17th to 20th), Fire Island Black Out (August 7th to 9th) and the Miss’d America pageant this fall. I also have word from a reliable, yet anonymous source that there will be a second club opening this summer that “focuses on the LGBT community.” Stay tuned for any updates.

Check out the entertainment-lineup video below. Get more info on dates and tickets here.

 

 

Can Bart Blatstein Really Kickstart Atlantic City?

Starbucks bathroom, Atlantic City

The most wonderful bathroom view in the world, at a Starbucks in Atlantic City. (Photo | Dan McQuade)

After Bart Blatstein unveiled his plans for the Pier at Caesars in Atlantic City yesterday, I went to the Starbucks to file a story. The Inquirer’s Amy Rosenberg calls it the “nicest Starbucks on the planet,” and it might be. It’s a Starbucks that’s literally on the beach. There are incredible views of the ocean, beach and Atlantic City boardwalk.

Then I went into the bathroom. It was more of the same! The tiny, one-toilet bathroom at the pier has an even better view of the ocean than the actual Starbucks. And yet, here it is, an amazing view completely hidden in the mall.

The weirdest thing about the Pier Shops at Caesars — the pier that will soon become Blatstein’s new Playground development — is that it’s so inward-facing. Sure, it’s a mall — but it’s a mall that overlooks the ocean and aside from the back of the pier and one side of the third floor — and that Starbucks — the pier doesn’t look out onto the ocean. “I’ve never seen a pier like this anywhere in the country,” Blatstein said. He promised to install more windows in the pier, offering gorgeous views overlooking the city.

Windows are a good start. But can Bart Blatstein really kickstart Atlantic City? Read more »

Blatstein Unveils Atlantic City Pier Plans: “This Place Won’t Fail”

The Playground - Outside

Image Courtesy Steelman Partners and Tower Investments

Saying he would make Atlantic City the “the capital of entertainment on the East Coast,” Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein unveiled his dramatic redevelopment for the Pier Shops at Caesars today. The pier, which Blatstein’s Tower Investments is developing along with casino architect Paul Steelman’s firm, has been rechristened The Playground.

“I promise you, this will become the number one tourist attraction in Atlantic City,” Blatstein said yesterday at a dog-and-pony show at the pier. “I guarantee it.” Later, he doubled down on the pier’s success: “It’s a symbol of what Atlantic City is going to become… With Paul here by my side, this place can’t fail. It won’t fail. I don’t want to want it to sound oysters here, but I have never failed in my career. I have never not picked an area that has not turned around. This is going to be the greatest success of my career.” Read more »

Bart Blatstein To Present Pier Shops Plans Wednesday

Pier Shops escalator

The late Mitch Hedberg would not be happy with this sign. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

As we reported on Tuesday, Bart Blatstein has settled his legal dispute with Caesars and his plan for the Pier Shops is back on.

Blatstein’s press person sent out a release this morning with details on his announcement for the Pier Shops at Caesars. Blatstein has grand plans for the mall, so the all-caps subject line was warranted: “BART BLATSTEIN TO UNVEIL DRAMATIC REDEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR THE PIER AT CAESAR’S – MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1st AT 12 NOON IN ATLANTIC CITY.” Read more »

5 Charts That Show Just How Screwed Atlantic City Is

Atlantic City winter beach

Atlantic City in February 2015 (Photo | Dan McQuade)

On Tuesday, Atlantic City’s Chris Christie-appointed emergency management team released its first report. The results were grim.

“The acute financial distress facing the City is imminent and the causes of such distress are not transitory,” emergency manager Kevin Lavin wrote in the report. “Absent an urgent, material realignment of revenues and expenses, this crisis will rapidly deepen and will threaten the City’s ability to deliver and maintain essential government services impacting the health, safety and welfare of its residents.” Christie’s executive order required Lavin and consultant Kevyn Orr, who handled Detroit’s bankruptcy, to issue a report within 60 days.

“It’s actually a lot more severe than we thought when we started 60 days ago,” Lavin said, though he and Orr said bankruptcy was not being considered. Atlantic City has a $101 million city budget shortfall and a $47 million deficit in the school district. The managers recommended $10 million in city cuts, including hundreds of layoffs, and appointing mediators to work with casinos and unions.

New Jersey State Senate president Steve Sweeney lambasted the report: “This report does nothing more than dramatize the fiscal crisis in Atlantic City … Today’s report was 60 days in the making and it reached the same conclusions that we did in November: that decisive action is needed to stabilize Atlantic City’s finances, reduce expenses, protect local taxpayers and reposition the casino industry for future growth.” Sweeney has proposed his own plan that includes a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program for the casinos.

Sweeney is right: The report does dramatize Atlantic City’s fiscal crisis. You can read it at the end of this post. But since it’s essentially just a stop-gap report — another one is due in 90 days — let’s take a look at some of its charts that illustrate the bad shape A.C. is in. Read more »

Bart Blatstein’s A.C. Pier Shops Plan Appears to Be Back On

Third Floor of the Pier Shops

The third floor of the Pier Shops in late summer 2014. The sand has since been removed. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Bart Blatstein appears to have resolved his dispute with Caesars over the Pier Shops in Atlantic City.

Today, a spokesman confirmed to Philadelphia magazine that Blatstein will hold a press conference next month at the Pier Shops. This morning, the Press of Atlantic City reported Blatstein met with tenants at the shops and told them things with Caesars were being settled. The press conference is set for noon on April 1st. Read more »

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