ATLANTIC CITY — In ads in glossy magazines, on the signs dotting the highways, the location of the newest, $2.4 billion megaresort is not “Atlantic City” or “The Inlet” but a previously unheard-of moniker: “Revel Beach.”
The designation is the first time that an Atlantic City beach has been officially renamed on behalf of anything, much less a business or casino, and the change — made by those in charge of the Atlantic City Tourism District — flew so under the radar that City Council introduced an ordinance that from now on, no one can rename part of the city without council’s approval.
Revel Beach is city property, but has Revel established a precedent? Will other casinos be lining up to re-label the beach in front of their properties? Or will the “official” name of a stretch of sand not make much of a difference anyway?
The switch to “Revel Beach” was inserted into the redevelopment agreement between the city and the state, which was then approved by City Council, even if it may not have noticed.
But on March 21, Councilman Steven Moore introduced an ordinance stating that council “wishes to ensure that the Atlantic City beaches are not named and/or renamed without the prior approval of the governing body.”
The ordinance will be up for final passage Wednesday.
“I really don’t understand the need for that,” Councilman George Tibbett said last month. “That was all voted on as part of the redevelopment agreement. But more than half (of council) wasn’t on City Council at the time the agreement passed. ... It’s something on the books already. It’s feel-good legislation.”
Moore did not return a call for comment.
As for why Revel requested the change in the first place, spokeswoman Maureen Siman said via email that it was because Revel “is designed to make full use of its surrounding environment which prominently features the ocean and beach.”
The name Revel Beach, she continued, “is simply a way of indicating that the resort’s activities, not just the view, include the beach and ocean.”
She also added that there are no plans to rename other features, so Revel Jetty and Revel Inlet will not be coming to a beach near you anytime soon.
Visitors to Revel’s “soft opening” this week had mixed feelings about the renaming of the beach — especially Seymour and Barbara Cohen, of Atlantic City.
“The two of us met on that beach,” Barbara Cohen said. “My mother stayed in a rooming house, and his grandmother had a room there. ... We’re going to be married 55 years.”
“We know it as Connecticut Avenue,” Seymour Cohen said of the beach. “This is the way it used to look, without the dunes.
“We’re right about where the dude ranch would have been. There was a penny arcade on this side and a pavilion right here. My grandmother couldn’t make it to the pavilion and had to rest. Now I understand why she had to rest!”
Back then, they said, the neighborhood and beach had a different, less official name: “They called it ‘Little Israel,’” Seymour said.
“I guess it’s OK,” he said of the renaming. “But I guess people will give them anything they want if they open another casino.”
Anna Maggio, of Westchester, N.Y., pondered “why it just can’t be the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, which is the reason everybody comes here. ... It’s a beautiful hotel and it’s sure going to generate a lot of business, but is it that special that this stretch of beach needs to be named after it? I’m not so sure.”
Barbara Lovato, of Bergen County, staying with her son Jeffrey Scrivanich in Brigantine, wondered whether “people would start thinking they’d have to rent or stay here to get onto the beach, while Mary Ann Van Oostendorp, of Little Egg Harbor Township, had “no idea” the beach was renamed.
As to the possibility of other casinos renaming their beaches: “Oh, that would be terrible,” Van Oostendorp said. “But I guess for tourists it would be easier to find them.”
Meanwhile, Greg Berger, of South Brunswick, Middlesex County, had the opposite opinion.
“I think it’s great,” Berger said. “I hope they develop the beach and put different bars and entertainment out there as well. ... This may force other casinos to follow suit, spruce things up a little bit.”
But for all of Berger’s hopes — and Van Oostendorp’s and City Council’s concerns — other casinos aren’t lining up to rename their adjacent beaches.
“While we think re-naming the beachfront is a great idea, we don’t have any immediate plans to do the same at Caesars, Bally’s and Showboat,” said Don Marrandino of Caesars Entertainment, who added that they do have a surf bar in front of Showboat.
Tropicana Casino and Resort is not considering the idea either, a spokesperson said.
In the meantime, the Revel Beach name is omnipresent, from the terse “500 Boardwalk, Revel Beach, AC NJ” ad in New York Magazine to the multiple signs on the way into town.
“It’s a good marketing plan for Revel,” said Alma Nothacker, of Greenwich Township, Gloucester County. “I noticed as I drove into Atlantic City, there are signs all over for Revel Beach, even at the (Brigantine) tunnel. It’s still a public beach, and they can’t keep people off of it, so it’s something good right now. But you don’t know what the future will hold.”
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