Morning Headlines: Experts Consider Atlantic City’s Fate

Photo courtesy  Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Inquirer has a lengthy report this morning speculating on Atlantic City’s fate come September, when as many as four Boardwalk properties may be vacant. Suzette Parmley talks to a variety of authorities and rubberneckers, and even nabs a quote from Carl Dranoff while he’s at dinner.

With the Atlantic Club having closed in January, Trump Plaza closing in September and Revel and Showboat in dire straits, Mayor Don Guardian tells Parmley that the city is considering using the old casinos for other purposes. Changes will need the go-ahead from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

What would the other purposes be? Parmley found a few people with suggestions. One possible tenant would be Richard Stockton College, which has expressed interest in opening a campus in Atlantic City:

The changing landscape in A.C. makes it more important than ever to diversify the economic base in Atlantic City, as well as provide four-year degree and higher educational opportunities for the many employees being displaced,” Stockton president Herman Saatkamp said in a statement Wednesday. “A college campus complete with housing and surrounding businesses would be a significant asset to these needs.

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High-End Shore Market Unlikely to Be Hurt By Casino Closures

margate home

Photo of 514 N. Thurlow Avenue in Margate, a home for sale for $8.5 million. Copyright SJSRMLS.

The legalization of gambling across the Northeast has hit Atlantic City hard: The latest victim, Trump Entertainment Resorts confirmed this weekend, is Trump Plaza, which is scheduled to close on September 16.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Real estate experts we contacted said that while the rental market may be hit hard by the job losses — particularly in nearby inland towns like Pleasantville — the closures are much less likely to have a significant impact on the higher income ownership market in towns like Ventnor and Margate.

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Will Philadelphia Get Its Own Space Needle?

skyspire
PHL Local Gaming — one of the five contenders for that ever elusive casino license in Philadelphia — has announced a potential new feature for its LoSo Entertainment Center: a 615-foot-tall Skyspire with rooftop restaurant and observation deck, both of which would be reached by gondola. The tower would be designed to look much like Seattle’s Space Needle, though it would be 10 feet taller (take that, Seattle!).

The Skyspire wouldn’t be unique to Philadelphia. It’s made by U.S. Thrill Rides, which creates rides and attractions for places like Six Flags and MGM Grand. Michael Kitchen, president of U.S. Thrill Rides, has this to say about the company’s Skyspire:

“In addition to being a world-caliber amusement attraction and a stunning piece of architecture, the Skyspire also constitutes a ‘wow factor with class’ that appeals to the very young, to seniors and all other adult demographics.”

Here are more images of the Skyspire:

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Tavern Games Turn Out Not to Be a Windfall

When Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill last year allowing taverns to host small games of chance, the expectation was that the project might provide $100 million to state coffers its first fiscal year. Nope. CBS Philly reports that just seven bars have received gaming licenses, and just 15 more are currently applying.

The reason? Probably because a violation of gaming law could result in the loss of a liquor licence, under the current law.

“If you have a small mistake on a small games of chance license, which is a small dollar thing, that could go after their liquor license as well,” State Sen. Jake Corman said. “And I think that scares these folks.”

Morning Headlines: Market8 Gets Three Political Endorsements

Rendering of Market8.

Rendering of Market8.

Market8 has been endorsed yet again, this time by state and local legislators: Rep. John Taylor, Rep. Michael O’Brien, and Councilman Mark Squilla. They join a line of supporters that includes the Washington West Civic Association and the Philadelphia NAACP.

The casino bidder’s presentation at last month’s hearings before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made a stronger impression than those of the other contenders.

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Morning Headlines: Casino Smackdown Begins. Who Will Win?

casino revolution

Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.

Today is the start of three days of hearings during which the final five bidders for Philadelphia’s casino license will make their case before the PA Gaming Control Board. Established venues such as SugarHouse will also be granted the opportunity to present their rebuttal against the new projects to avoid losing business.

Among the prospective projects, three are proposed for South Philly (Live! Hotel & Casino, Casino Revolutions, and Hollywood Casino), one in Callowhill (the Provence), and one in Center City (Market8). The schedule of the hearings is as follows:

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Is Philadelphia’s Next Casino Just a Spoonful of Slots to Make the Restaurants Go Down?

A rendering of Bart Blatstein's Provence casino.

A rendering of Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino.

One of the things that struck us about Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino proposal from the day it was announced was the function the casino would perform. Of course, it’s the largest single element of the project, but both from its placement (above the street-level restaurants and shops) and the facilities attached to it (a concert venue and rooftop shopping village), it almost seemed the casino was an appendage needed to make all the other goodies possible.

Since that grand announcement party almost a year ago, the other projects vying for the city’s second casino license have largely evolved in the Provence’s direction. Market8, the closest in concept at the start, enlarged its hotel and added more street-level variety. Casino Revolution tacked on a theme park of sorts. And so on.

Blatstein’s introduction of two star chefs for the Provence more or less confirmed our view of the project. It’s not that casinos lose money; if they did that, there wouldn’t be five bidders competing for one casino license. Rather, it’s that the casino is no longer the biggest moneymaker in such projects.

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Blatstein Introduces Two Celebrity Chefs for Casino Complex

Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith

Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith


Two star New York chefs whose restaurants sparked neighborhood revivals, Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini, will establish operations in Philadelphia as part of developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence casino-entertainment complex.

Blatstein introduced the pair at a short press conference in a tent atop the parking garage at 15th and Callowhill streets that will fall to make way for the casino and its accompanying shops and restaurants should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board award the second and last casino license in Philadelphia to his project.

Both Colicchio and Carmellini have track records of opening outstanding restaurants that serve acclaimed cuisine.

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Fortuna Realty to PHL Local: If You Build It, We Will Come

casino revolution

Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.

PHL Local Gaming, one of the five remaining contenders for Philadelphia’s casino license, announced today that Fortuna Realty Group has given them a letter of intent to build a four-star hotel adjacent to its casino should it win the bid. PHL Local’s current application has a 250-room hotel as part of its proposal, so this would be additional hotel space, also with 250 rooms.

Just as a reminder, Casino Revolution would be in the area PHL Local is calling LoSo, or Lower South. That footprint, according to PHL Local, runs from Front Street to Seventh, and Packer Avenue to Pattison. Casino Revolution would have a couple thousand slot machines, 100+ table games, and several restaurants. The company’s stated purpose, however, is not just to bring a casino and entertainment center to that area, but to revitalize it with surrounding new businesses and recreational venues and opportunities.

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