Blatstein: The Playground in Atlantic City to be 100% Leased in 2016

A rendering of T Street via Tower Investments

A rendering of T Street via Tower Investments

It takes time to get most anything done these days. That’s especially true when you’re trying to revive a $200 million failed whale of a luxury shopping mall into an entertainment destination full of lively bars, high-end shopping, tons of food options and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Such is the case with developer Bart Blatstein at the former Pier Shops at Caesars on the boards of Atlantic City. The developer, along with Steelman Partners, is in the midst of a massive transformation project to take it from seldom-visited mall with plenty of empty storefronts to what’s now dubbed The Playground, a development that Blatstein said would help remake Atlantic City into the entertainment capital of the East Coast.

Blatstein bought the mall about a year ago, and announced his plans for The Playground in April. The first phase of the project, a multi-venue music walk and bar scene akin to Beale Street in Memphis called T Street on the building’s first floor, was ready to go for the summer season in June. The build out took about ten weeks, and Blatstein brought in Garces Events to cater the food and beverage menu and staff each venue.

In a traditional scenario, Blatstein told Property, it would take anywhere from 8 to 12 months to put together a lease for retail tenants and build out the space, and it could take up to two years to do the same for a restaurant. Blatstein labeled the turnaround for T Street “a miracle.”

“Instead of it taking two years to do, we did it in the matter of two months,” said the developer, who called the previous operations at the Pier “rudderless” when it was the mall. “When we took it over, it was 60 percent vacant. We will have 100 percent occupancy in 2016 … the turnaround is the story.”

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Plans for Parker Spruce Hotel, Broad & Washington to be Presented This Week

The Parker Spruce Hotel | via Google Street View

The Parker Spruce Hotel | via Google Street View

Temperatures have firmly shifted into sweatshirt and jeans weather, and you know that what means: development presentation season at our local civic associations!

This week is a doozy, especially for those of you who live near the Parker Spruce Hotel and the intersection of Broad and Washington (and a lot of you do), as the local Registered Community Organizations will hear the latest details and provide updates about each of the neighborhood-changing projects.

Here’s more:

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Bart Blatstein Really Is Buying the Old Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino on September 1st, 2014, the day after it closed. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Today, Stockton University officially announced the news that broke earlier this week: The university had agreed to sell the old Showboat casino, which it purchased last year, to Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments.

The purchase price will be $22 million. Stockton bought it for $18 million last year. Earlier this week, trustees authorized the sale of the site.

“We anticipate this being the culmination of months of effort wending through the court system, untangling a previous contract and allowing us to move forward with a new purchaser,” Stockton interim president Harvey Kesselman said in a release. “The Board of Trustees and I look forward to closing this chapter in Stockton’s history while moving forward with our efforts to grow our commitment to an Atlantic City renaissance.” Read more »

Report: Blatstein Agrees to Buy Former Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino after it closed in 2014 (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Bart Blatstein has agreed to buy the former Showboat Casino in Atlantic City from Stockton University, NJBIZ is reporting. The casino, which closed in August 2014, was sold to Stockton University last year for use as a new island campus.

But Trump Entertainment Resorts enforced an old pact between the Trump Taj Mahal and Caesars, Showboat’s owner. That pact prohibited any use of the Showboat for anything but a casino. The collapse of the island campus led to the downfall of Stockton president Herman Saatkamp, which Philadelphia magazine’s Simon van-Zuylen Wood chronicled in a magazine article in March. Read more »

One of Us: Bart Blatstein, Developer

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Bart Blatstein. But that’s not my legal name. Bart is short for Barton, but I haven’t used Barton since first grade, for obvious reasons.

I am a … real estate developer with few hobbies. My golf game is so bad that my hobby is real estate development. I’m the worst golfer at my golf club. They all laugh at me.

I bought my first property … on May 15, 1978 — a very small three-story rowhouse shell in Queen Village. It was the result of me not getting into medical school. I had to pursue something.

I live in … Montgomery County, but we’re moving back to Philly next year. We’re empty nesters, and it’s time to transition. Read more »

What’s on the Menu at the Playground

playground-sign-via-playground-940Bart Blatstein’s The Playground opens tomorrow in Atlantic City. And on “T Street,” the indoor street lined with seven live music venues, the food is being provided by Garces Events.

In the time since the project announced, the restaurant group has created a menu of bar snacks, and hand-held foods that are designed for taking from venue to venue, as the Playground allows guests to pass through its venues. The food menu is the same for all of the venues, while the beer lists and custom cocktails are specific to each concept.

For food there are snacks, Mexican pizzas, loaded fries (including the Abe Froman’s topped with bratwurst, cheese curds, and sauerkraut – Garces is just not giving up on Abe Froman), Nashville hot chicken, burgers and a section called “Riviera,” which inexplicably includes German style sausages.

Check out more on the food and drink »

Headlines: Walnut Street’s Art Deco “Icon” Has Been Sold

A photo posted by Pennsporter (@pennsporter) on

One of Philly’s standout examples of Art Deco architecture, the majestic Icon 1616 at 1616 Walnut Street, has been sold for some big time money. According to Natalie Kostelni of the Philadelphia Business Journal, “the $112 million price tag is considered huge at more than $540,000 a unit. The building has 23,000 square feet of fully leased retail space and 160 parking spaces.”

The building was owned by a trio of companies, including Alterra Property Group, Cross Properties and Federal Capital Partners. The buyer, Kostelni says, “is an investor from New York.”

Icon kind of changed the rental game when it reopened in 2014. Not only did it offer luxurious residential and building amenities, but it also partnered with Delos to offer Philly’s first WELL Signature suites program with Vitamin-C infused showerheads, black out curtains, aromatherapy and the Stay Well mobile phone app. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Leo DiCaprio, it’s good enough for us.)

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The First Phase of The Playground Is Opening This Weekend

Concept for The Playground's T Street.

Concept for The Playground’s T Street.

With record speed, the first phase of The Playground, known as “T Street,” is officially opening its doors to the public this Friday in Atlantic City.

The Playground is Bart Blatstein‘s reinvigoration program for the Pier Shops at Ceasars, which will hold 14 music venues, two private clubs, a bowling alley and a massive sports bar when all’s said and done. Since we’ve already talked venues, attractions, and construction, how about we talk eats?

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Headlines: Important Zoning Overlay Bill For South Philly to Meet Council Today

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington. | Photo via Google Street View.

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington. | Photo via Google Street View.

A bill that would create a zoning overlay called the South Broad Street Gateway will be introduced to City Council later today, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports. The bill’s purpose? To pave the way for the project developer Bart Blatstein has in store for the northeast corner of Broad and Washington.

Yes, you read that correctly. There’s finally an update of note regarding the proposed mixed-use complex we last heard had called for two residential towers and a retail component. Blatstein has since refined his plans to include 1,600 units in the both towers and 180,000 square feet of retail space. According to Brey, both structures would rise to 30 stories, while the site as whole would be surrounded by “three-story retail storefronts and restaurants, with a mess of parking in the middle of the property.”

Councilman Johnson’s aide, Steve Cobb, was quoted as say the project could potentially start moving along in the fall.

Meanwhile, some folks aren’t happy with the new protected bike lines in Northeast Philly…

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