Builder Bart Blatstein Buying Bargain Basement Boardwalk Bazaar Beside Baccarat Bets

Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein and casino architect Paul Steelman are said to be paying less than $3 million for the $200 million mall over the Atlantic Ocean.

Did you get all of that headline? It’s simple: Bart Blatstein is purchasing The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City for under $3 million, according to several news sources. The shops, which opened in 2004 at the site of the former Million Dollar Pier, cost $200 million to build. The plan was to anchor the mall with luxury shops to attract high-rollers.

But since opening, the mall has struggled: The company that developed it, Taubman Centers, pulled out in 2009 and stopped subsidizing it. Stores have been closing ever since. The Philadelphia Business Journal, which first reported the sale, says the mall’s retail space is only 52 percent occupied. Some of that space is an indoor miniature golf course — not exactly the high-end retail originally envisioned.

Blatstein, who owns a house in Margate, says he believes in the future of Atlantic City “1,000 percent.” The mall is 300,000 square feet and four stories tall. The top floor is an event space called One Atlantic.

The Inquirer reports Blatstein is purchasing the mall along with casino architect Paul Steelman, but they do not plan to operate it as a casino. (The Inquirer says they’re paying $2.8 million; the Business Journal $2.5 million.) “Paul’s from down the shore,” Blatstein “gushed” to the Inquirer (their words). “He’s got such a creative brilliant mind, he’s got projects in Vietnam and Macau and Moscow, I love working with him, he sees it all.”

Blatstein says he’ll have more info on his plans once the deal closes in November.

[Press of AC | Inquirer | PBJ]