Come midnight Monday, we will say goodbye to 2012. Most of us are happy to see this year end.
Between Hurricane Sandy and other storms that caused severe damage to various sections of the community, the misinformation broadcasted by national television and radio stations — as well as printed in newspapers about the condition of the Boardwalk and the city — the drop in business overall and with the increase in the number of murders, it was not a very good year.
As this year draws to a close, we have much to look forward to in 2013.
The following are those projects that were announced to be completed or begin construction in the new year: One of the most long-awaited projects will be the milling and paving of Pacific Avenue. The city, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority are working on budgets and a construction plan. It is expected that construction will begin in the middle of next year with the hope of being completed before summer. It is anticipated that Atlantic Avenue will also be milled and paved, but at a later date.
This past summer, announcement of a contract being signed between Resorts Casino Hotel and Margaritaville had most people thinking it was a great deal for Resorts. A short time later, Resorts signed a contract with the Mohegan Sun Casino Hotels to take over operations of their casino and hotel. Mitch Etess, CEO of Mohegan Sun’s facilities, announced their players in Connecticut and Pennsylvania will be permitted to use their comps at Resorts and vice versa.
Construction is under way on the Margaritaville and LandShark Bar. The piles are done and the deck is under construction. Shop and prefab drawings are in production and off-site items are being fabricated. Both projects are scheduled to be open by the end of May. In addition, construction of Margaritaville’s “5 O’clock Somewhere Bar,” which will be in the current Resorts building, will begin in mid-January.
Another new facility will be created at Harrah’s Casino Resort. It will develop a $134 million conference center that will have 243,000 square feet on two levels, 100,000 of which is flexible space for leasing. It will enhance Atlantic City’s opportunity to enter into the corporate-meetings marketplace. One hundred of the top Fortune 500 companies are located in the Northeast, and none of the facilities in the city has been able to accommodate them. Construction will begin very early in 2013, with the facility ready to be open in summer 2014.
The Walk’s Phase IV development site — Missouri to Mississippi avenues on Atlantic Avenue — will have a 70,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops facility constructed there. The CRDA approved a $12.3 million loan and the loan documents are under development. It is anticipated that construction will start sometime in the new year. It is interesting to hear hunters and fishermen discussing how great it is to have a facility like this being built in the center of Atlantic City.
The operators of the Steel Pier have made a request to the CRDA for a $10 million loan. If the loan is approved, it would enable them to spend $20 million to $30 million of their own money for nine new rides, as well as their infrastructure and equipment. Two of the rides will be available on a year-round basis.
The front building would be extended to the property line and would allow them to have three tenants. One already signed is Tony Roni’s Pizza Parlor, from Philadelphia. The bridge between the Taj Mahal and the Steel Pier would be turned into a sports bar that would overlook the Boardwalk.
The CRDA had initiated a request for proposals for the development of a skateboard park. It is my understanding that it received responses from eight of the best skateboard-design companies in the nation. It is anticipated that the site will be located near The Walk.
One of those that I know is under consideration for the site is the former Patsy Wallace community building — on Arctic Avenue between Mississippi and Missouri avenues — that has been vacant for too long. There has been some concern raised by people in the community about having a skate park in the city. I’ve been told that the skate park would have a professional operator and security personnel to oversee its use.
The CRDA also is in the midst of considering the development of a public marketplace that would be similar to the one in the former train station in Philadelphia. Locations are currently being considered to provide the opportunity for visitors and residents who are in The Walk area to have a strong connection to the Boardwalk and Atlantic Avenue districts. Currently, the CRDA is bidding for a market-feasibility analysis as the next step in advancing this project. Caesars Entertainment will provide $9.9 million — from its CRDA funds — for the development of this project.
At the present time, there is much concern about two facilities located on Pacific Avenue that do not fit in with the desired makeup of the Tourism District. The CRDA continues to work with representatives of the John Brooks Recovery Center, in the former YMCA site, on Pacific Avenue between Tennessee and South Carolina avenues, and Sister Jean’s Kitchen, in a church at Pennsylvania and Pacific avenues, to consider appropriate new locations or improvements to their existing locations.
The Special Improvement Division of the CRDA has nearly completed the landscaping on nine out of 10 planned vacant lots in the Atlantic, Pacific and Boardwalk areas. This has provided a great benefit to Atlantic City with a new, improved “cared-for look” to the city. The CRDA has budgeted for 18 additional lots to be landscaped in 2013. It deserves credit for the beautification program of the empty lots.
Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show 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 NBC TV40. Email Pinky at: email@example.com.