Why has the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority been selected in the Democrats' proposal - with, I understand, Gov. Chris Christie's approval - to oversee the Atlantic City's entertainment, gaming and retail zone? One need only see the work that has been done on projections for future development within Atlantic City to understand why.
The CRDA is ready to move forward and get these proposals under way immediately. If there were a new entity - and that's the last thing we need - it would require appointments to take place and for the group to begin to figure out what it wants to do and how to do it. It is my pleasure to present some of these CRDA proposals to you. The following are from notes provided by the CRDA.
"The proposed plan seeks to revitalize a crucial area of Downtown Atlantic City. In cooperation with the city and other stakeholders, CRDA will develop a series of projects with the intent of bringing needed assets to the downtown and leveraging its existing businesses to create a more vibrant, walkable and commercially successful downtown. Through proven economic development strategies such as the establishment of an Arts District, the coordinated development of an education and medical corridor, concentration of employment, business attractions and implementation of Atlantic Avenue components. The plan focuses on increasing density on underutilized parcels of land and creating vitality through infill development, adaptive reuse of existing structures and strategic land planning to bring about the proper mix and scale of uses in the downtown.
"The area of the downtown contains many of Atlantic City's most valuable assets such as Boardwalk Hall, Dante Hall, The Walk, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, Richard Stockton College, the Atlantic City Convention Center and several casino properties. CRDA's strategy is to concentrate its development focus on this area in order to leverage the presence of these existing assets and create new mix-use housing projects that will provide new demand for local retail services and new entertainment options for the city's residents and visitors alike. With a next-use project, the residential element provides a demand while the retail element provides the necessary amenity sought by the residents. Fundamental to this strategy is capitalizing on the success of CRDA's investment in The Walk and maximizing its impact by generating further investment in the downtown. Attracting employment, mixed-income housing and non-gaming amenities are stated goals of the plan and will all contribute to the downtown revitalization.
"Through strategic investments and partnerships with the casino industry, the city's major institutions, local and state government and the development and finance communities, CRDA seized the opportunity to create a 'Live, Work, Learn, and Play' environment in Downtown Atlantic City. Beyond generating tangible economic benefits to the city, such as increasing the tax base, bringing new development to the downtown will strengthen Atlantic City's position as a tourist destination by creating more opportunities for tourist engagement. A recent report based upon visitor surveys cite the presence of more non-gaming amenities as the needed incentive for certain categories of tourists to visit Atlantic City. The Atlantic City Downtown Revitalization Plan will help to provide that incentive."
Reading the above, it is obvious the groundwork has been put in place for change to happen in Atlantic City. I've had the pleasure of seeing some of the renderings of projects that are currently being considered. It is the kind of redevelopment Atlantic City needs. They are impressive. You can see the CRDA has been working for the past several years to put this program in place and it only needs the cooperation of the state and city to make it happen. Having looked at these plans, I can imagine how long it would take for a new entity to come up with a program that will enhance Atlantic City's ambiance and attract tourists. I believe this is a program that will take us into the future. I also believe the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, with the support of Gov. Christie and the New Jersey State Legislature, will diligently work to make Atlantic City a renowned destination resort for our visitors and a charming community for its local residents.
For the past six years, the Boardwalk Committee has been trying to establish newspaper condos on the Boardwalk to eliminate the variety of newspaper boxes that exist. The Special Improvement District has come up with a recommendation for a four rack condo unit, that will undergo a three-month trial period. The trial will determine if the condo will be able to withstand the salt air.
Newspaper condo boxes can be found in airports, malls and on street corners. If the plan is approved, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will provide the funds to enhance the Boardwalk with newspaper condos and eliminate the various newspaper boxes. There will be a fee for the newspapers to use a condo that will pay for the upkeep of the units and for replacements when necessary.
If you are a basketball fan, you are in for a treat as Atlantic City welcomes the Legends Classic Basketball Championship, featuring Georgia Tech vs. UTEP and Michigan vs. Syracuse on Friday, Nov. 26, at Boardwalk Hall. The winners meet Saturday, Nov. 27. Where else can you find two outstanding college basketball games being played in a magnificent arena such as Boardwalk Hall for a fee starting at $10?
On the move
What would you say if I told you the editors of The Press were going to take my column out of At The Shore? They are going to do it.
What would you say if I told you they were going to put my column on the front page of the Region section? They are going to do it.
It will continue to be presented to you once a week beginning Thursday, Dec. 2. The column will still be the same length and, hopefully, it will continue to be filled with items of interest to you and, of course, my viewpoint on what's taking place in Atlantic City and its environs. I would like to publicly thank The Press of Atlantic City's management for the confidence they have shown in my ability to keep you informed and interested in my column.
(Pinky's Corner airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on WMGM -TV40. Pinky's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.)