There was a time when Atlantic City, in its pre-casino days, boasted hundreds of thousands of rental rooms.
Today, the resort doesn’t have even 10 percent of that, said Joshua Levin, owner of Levin Commercial Real Estate in Atlantic City.
The number is closer to 20,000 rooms, said Jeff Guaracino, spokesman for the Atlantic City Alliance. That includes casinos.
While the number of rooms has decreased, in recent years there has been an increase in renovations of some of the older or historic properties. The newest to join that list is the Ascot motel on Iowa Avenue.
“It was time to upgrade,” said Mitchell Gurwicz, of real estate developer Max Gurwicz Enterprises, which owns the site.
He referenced a similar change recently to the former Flamingo, just down the street on Pacific Avenue near the Chelsea.
“The building’s age made it the right time to modernize,” Gurwicz said. “The pool is still there, and there will be an added public space.”
The 29,800-square-feet property was built in 1962 and has been a rental option for visitors for 50 years. After Hurricane Sandy, the building remained closed and the “Ascot” sign was removed.
“We are looking at major brand flags,” Gurwicz said.
A similar transformation took place in 2010 when the Flamingo became the Quality Inn.
Tax records indicate the assessment of the Ascot property decreased in 2012 — from $5.1 million in 2011 to $3.8 million.
The motel’s exterior is showing signs of modernization, complete with electronic sign boards and attractive colored lights in a column facing Iowa Avenue.
“We have a strong belief in the need for nice new hotel rooms in Atlantic City,” Gurwicz said. “We break the rooms down to the studs and make them brand new.”
Currently undergoing renovations, the motel is set to open for this year’s summer season.
Before serving as a motel, the location was an annex of what was then the Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The property was known by several names, including the Ritz’s California Bungalows and the Ambassador Bungalows.
Both names reflect the property’s ownership then, because the cottages were created as a cooperative effort by the Ritz and its neighbor, the Ambassador Hotel, in 1919, according to a New York Times article from that year.
According to a map of Atlantic City in 1921, the Ambassador Hotel was located on a road that is somewhere under the Tropicana Casino & Resort today.
The property became the Ascot as part of the Gurwicz family’s commercial build-out in the area between 1960 and 1988. The family, now operating under Max Gurwicz Enterprises in Northfield, built more than 1,000 hotel rooms in properties including the Diplomat Hotel, the Barclay Motel, the Ascot and the Flamingo.
When asked for the reason for a renovation, Gurwicz replied, “It’s Atlantic City. People come and want to have a nongaming hotel choice.”
When it opens, the unnamed hotel will offer 73 rooms.
“We believe this level of hotel is what customers want,” Gurwicz said.
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