A stately, boutique hotel, wrapped in 1930s charm, will go on the auction block next month in the latest attempt to sell this survivor of Atlantic City’s topsy-turvy real estate market.
The 14-story Madison House, which opened during the Great Depression, is one of the few remaining historic hotels from the city’s heyday as the “Queen of Resorts.” It will be sold at auction on May 25 at an opening bid of $3,999,000. The owner, George Levin , is going the auction route after previous attempts at a negotiated sale fell through.
“At this point, he’s very motivated to sell,” said Robert Salvato , the auctioneer and real estate broker handling the sale for Levin. “That’s why he went to the auction process instead of dilly-dallying.”
Salvato said he has been inundated with calls from prospective buyers. Most have expressed interest in reopening the Madison House as a hotel. One, however, has discussed integrating the hotel with a water park project, he noted.
“No one has indicated plans for knocking it down. Just about everybody has indicated adapting it for its old use,” Salvato said.
Madison House has not operated as a full-fledged hotel since 2006. For a brief time, it served as a youth hostel for foreign workers holding seasonal jobs in the city’s tourism market.
There have been fears about the Madison’s future ever since it closed in 2006. The old Sands Casino Hotel had used the Madison as a companion hotel for gamblers, but when the Sands shut down in 2006, so did the Madison. Sands spent $7 million in 2004 to transform the Madison into a boutique property, downsizing the hotel from 250 rooms to 126 mini-suites.
Bruce Richard , who has been serving as the hotel caretaker for the past year, said the Madison remains in good shape and probably could be reopened in just a few months by a new owner.
“It’s more boutique than luxury,” Richard said. “I think with the right amount of money, you could turn it into anything you want to.”
Located about a block from the ocean, the Madison overlooks the southern tip of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just off the busy Pacific Avenue casino strip. Clad in red-brick exterior, it is designed in the Colonial Revival style. Inside, it has marble floors, ornate chandeliers and an elegant grand staircase modeled after the one at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
Madison House opened as a luxury hotel in 1930, just a few months after the 1929 stock market crash plunged the nation into the Depression. Over the years, the hotel has had its own turbulent history. It survived a bout with bankruptcy in the 1960s. Moreover, it avoided the wrecking ball during the first wave of casino construction in the 1970s and ’80s, a time that saw some other historic hotels demolished.
Madison House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, giving it protected status, but hardly an ironclad guarantee that it could not be razed. Pinnacle Entertainment, a Las Vegas-based company, once had plans to buy the Madison and then tear it down to make room for a proposed $1.5 billion casino megaresort. Pinnacle later abandoned the casino project.
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