ATLANTIC CITY - The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is contributing $1 million to Atlantic City's demolition program to help rid the resort of its eyesores.
Susan Ney Thompson, the CRDA's acting executive director, said Thursday that the authority is prepared to intensify demolition efforts in the city with financial support inside and outside of the new Tourism District.
"It's sad to see," she said of the buildings in disrepair. "We're prepared to go ahead and put that money on the table."
The news came out during the authority's second community meeting in Atlantic City, dubbed by Thompson as the CRDA's "road show" to inform residents of the new Tourism District, answer their questions and listen to suggestions. Thursday's meeting was held at Our Lady Star of the Sea School for the Chelsea Neighborhood Association.
The city has already altered its demolition laws to make its efforts more aggressive.
City Council recently amended a local ordinance to allow demolition proceedings to commence six months after a building is deemed vacant. The change has prompted an increase in demolition hearings by 120 percent, said Anthony Cox, director of the city's Licensing and Inspections Division.
"Property owners should be on notice now that these buildings are coming down," Cox said. "CRDA's help certainly ensures that our pace is consistent and uninterrupted. It's going to have a substantial effect."
One city resident questioned whether the city would allow tax abatements for developers to help revitalize abandoned or dilapidated buildings in the resort. Mayor Lorenzo Langford addressed that question, saying he would support tax abatements but is hesitant to enact such legislation because of the uncertainties concerning authority between the city and the CRDA.
"I don't know what's going to happen with jurisdiction," he said. "Will we have to go to the CRDA" for approval?
CRDA officials did not immediately clarify whether the authority's approval would be required, but after the meeting Thompson said the city would be subjected to CRDA approval.
"We have no jurisdiction over taxes," she said.
Langford has made addressing derelict properties a priority in his administration. Along with legislation by City Council, the administration in June solicited the public's input to compile a list of the city's top 10 eyesores. However, the majority of those sites remain.
The CRDA has reached out to the community to solicit questions and suggestions, mostly regarding the boundaries of the district. The authority intends to put those borders to a vote at its next board meeting April 19.
The majority of those in attendance seemed to support limiting the district's reach in Chelsea to Albany Avenue, but extending it on the Boardwalk to the border of Ventnor.
The current boundaries of the district, which are outlined in a default map within the state legislation created the district, extend to Jackson Avenue and include the residential neighborhoods leading to that point.
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