ATLANTIC CITY — A year from now, the city’s skyline will look completely different.
The Stockton University Gateway project will be open in the Chelsea section of the city. In the South Inlet section, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and The Beach at South Inlet, a residential project on a grassy 4-acre lot bound by Atlantic, Pacific, New Jersey and Connecticut avenues, will bring a much-needed boost to a struggling area.
The $81 million residential complex, which will feature 250 apartments, will help rejuvenate the city’s aging housing stock. More than 61 percent of the city’s housing stock is older than 40 years, according to real estate research by neighborhoodscout.com.
“Even really great buildings, like the Enclave, the problem is that those buildings are 30 to 35 years old,” said Wasseem Boraie, vice president of Boraie Development LLC, the developer of the project. “This new generation of renters knows what they want.”
The new complex is expected to open next summer, Boraie said while walking around the bustling construction site Thursday afternoon.
Mayor-elect Frank Gilliam said projects such as The Beach at South Inlet are the key to rebuilding the city. The project is the city’s first market-rate development in at least 25 years, Gilliam said.
“An updated housing stock is something that every city needs,” Gilliam said. Updating the city’s housing stock will be a key to increasing the resorts population, Gilliam said.
In addition to the units, the project will include a courtyard with a pool, a gym and “an amazing residents’ lounge,” Boraie said.
Boraie hopes his project will attract people who work in the city to live in the city.
“Of the 50,000 people who work in Atlantic City, 80 percent of them lived in Atlantic County,” Boraie said. “Which is a great sign, but only 5 percent lived in Atlantic City. The reason: the housing stock.”
The opening of Hard Rock’s new property next summer at the former site of Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and the possible reopening of the Revel Casino-Hotel makes the area attractive to potential residents, Boraie said.
Hard Rock International and investors Jack Morris and Joe Jingoli are spending more than $500 million renovating and rebranding the property. The project is expected to generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, according to the company.
“There are going to be a lot of young people who want to be here,” Boraie said. “We keep hearing about Revel reopening, you see the great investment that Hard Rock International is making in their property, now you are going to have 5,000 jobs that weren’t here when we started.”
The new jobs will create demand for units at his property, Boraie said, adding he also envisions people renting properties as second homes to take advantage of the beaches in the South Inlet.
“You don’t have to do very difficult math to understand the demand for 250 units,” Boraie said. “Those are pretty strong demand generators for young people.”
ATLANTIC CITY — Earlier this year, skill-based gaming was hailed as a way to attract a young audience to the casino floor.
But in May, after only six months, Caesars’s Entertainment properties in the resort removed skill-based games from their floors after they failed to generate enough money to cover the rights fees. Despite the setback, many still believe skill-based gaming will be key to attracting millennials.
“Casinos thrive on new gaming content, and the skill-based products will definitely be increasing their footprint long-term as more of the customer base is exposed to the products,” said Robert Ambrose, a gaming consultant. “I think with the skill-based product, the industry needs to take a long-term view.”
Skill-based gaming was billed as a way to attract the millennial market to slot machines, but since its introduction, it has struggled to gain traction with gamblers and its youthful target audience.
“Right now it is something new to the casino floor,” Ambrose said. “Some players I have talked to have met it with both skepticism as well as an opportunity to challenge a game.”
From skill-based gaming to e-sports, the city’s casino industry has looked for ways to entice millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, over the past couple of years.
“This game product will draw the skilled video player — and yes, they will be younger,” Ambrose said. “If the game only provides an illusion of skill, the knowledge player will not be playing it for long.”
Blaine Graboyes, co-founder and CEO of GameCo, a skill-based gaming developer, said skill-based gaming has a bright future.
“The momentum for it is already there,” Graboyes said.
GameCo had more than 21 games removed at the Caesars properties earlier this year after they failed to generate enough revenue. Graboyes described the decision to remove the games as a “mutual decision.”
“The big thing that we took away was how to market the machines,” Graboyes said. “How do you get the non-slot player to the machine?”
Ambrose said the marketing of skill-based gaming will be a key to its future.
“This is where marketing comes in. The players of these games are part of the social network generation,” Ambrose said. “So some clever strategies via the various social platforms should be part of the plan of introduction. Just dropping the product on the casino floor and seeing what happens will doom it before it starts.”
Steve Callender, Tropicana Atlantic City general manager, said skill-based gaming machines are gaining popularity.
“Tropicana Atlantic City continues to offer guests skill-based games on the casino floor. Although they don’t perform to the level of our traditional slot machines,” Callender said, “we’re generating incremental revenue from this new demographic.”
Graboyes predicts skill-based games could make up nearly 5 percent of the machines on casino floors in the next five years.
“If we make up 5 percent of the machines on gaming floors, that is 50,000 machines,” Graboyes said.
The 1.1 million-acre Pinelands National Reserve may be the largest body of open space between Boston and Richmond, but it has a long history of human habitation.
And the Pinelands Commission is charged with protecting that cultural history, as well as the wilderness.
“While a lot of people might know about the commission’s role in reviewing development applications, few are familiar with our efforts to protect cultural resources,” said commission spokesman Paul Leakan.
He said the commission has placed a renewed effort on cultural resources in the last year, and in October held its first cultural resource symposium in conjunction with the Archaeological Society of New Jersey that attracted 50 participants and seven paper presenters.
Recently, the commission's cultural resource planner Tony McNichol reviewed the application by Ocean County to renovate the historic Cedar Bridge Tavern in Barnegat Township. The commission required the applicant to conduct an archeological excavation at the site.
Built in about 1807, Cedar Bridge Tavern is on both the national and state registers of historic places and is a designated Pinelands cultural site. It was part of a town called Cedar Bridge settled by Europeans in about 1740.
The building, on a small dirt road in the woods about a mile south of Route 72, contains what is believed to be the oldest intact example of an early 19th century bar, and the area around the tavern has long been associated with the last recorded land battle of the Revolutionary War in 1782, according to the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission web site.
There will be a reenactment of the battle at the tavern site in December.
Ocean County bought the building from a private owner and is now turning it into an education center. Improvements such as a septic field, utility lines and a parking lot were going in, said McNichol.
The excavation found mostly 19th and early 20th century artifacts, said McNichol, 49, of Philadelphia, who has a master’s degree in archaeology from McGill University in Montreal. He has worked largely in the private sector in resource management for the last 20 years, and has also worked for the state historic preservation office, he said.
That included redware ceramics, flatware and glass associated with a tavern, he said.
There were also signs of a possible late 18th century “post in ground” structure.
McNichol said the Cedar Bridge excavation helped researchers better understand how people ate and traveled through the area for a long time.
Some Pinelands artifacts will be incorporated into a new visitor center being constructed at the commission’s headquarters in the New Lisbon section of Pemberton Township, Burlington County.
McNichol has been the commission’s cultural resources planner for about a year. Before he arrived, the position was part-time. Now it’s full-time and the commission is putting more emphasis on cultural issues, McNichol said.
McNichol’s job involves assessing development applications for impact on resources of cultural importance to the Pinelands, “specifically historic buildings, districts and archaeological sites,” he said.
“If I identify an area as potentially significant or see there could be a resource there that could be significant, I call for a cultural resource survey,” said McNichol. “It comes back to me from the consultant and I would make a decision if it’s eligible for a Pinelands designation.”
Then he decides how the resource will be treated. It can be preserved in place, moved to another location or recorded and the site covered by the development.
“That happens a lot with archaeological sites,” he said. “Often there is no way to avoid hitting the resource, so we do data recovery. All information is removed from the ground and subsequently analyzed.”
McNichol said the commission would like to have regular speakers on cultural and historical issues, in a program similar to the commission’s regular science program that brings in speakers and researchers on a variety of topics.
The October symposium was the first of what McNichol hopes will be many.
“We had a number of well-known archaeologists in the Pinelands there,” said Leakan, including Jack Cresson; R. Alan Mounier, who teaches at Stockton University and wrote “Looking Beneath the Surface: The Story of Archeology in New Jersey”; and Tony Ranere, of Temple University’s anthropology department.
McNichol is also trying to develop a collaborative effort with Monmouth University to establish field schools in the Pinelands, where students would learn field methods and techniques, and professors would teach stratigraphy, soils and artifact interpretation.