ATLANTIC CITY — City Council on Wednesday named Bart Blatstein’s company the conditional redeveloper of 3 city-owned acres sought by other developers.
Council gave Mayor Don Guardian’s administration permission to negotiate with Blatstein’s Tower Investments to sell the land — once a public-access volleyball court — between the former Showboat and Revel casinos. Blatstein owns Showboat.
Blatstein proposed a $40 million “multi-use event center” that will be part of Showboat, city Planning and Development Director Elizabeth Terenik said. Blatstein offered $1.9 million for the property, although Tower and the city can now negotiate a different price. The resolution does not commit the city to a sale.
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Tower was recommended because the event center better fits with the city’s master plan to become a diverse destination resort, Terenik said.
“The use is consistent with recent successful economic development efforts of increased events, concerts, meetings, conferences and other attractions,” she said.
Attorneys representing developers Polo North and and Boraie Development objected to the decision, describing the process as nontransparent. Kaitlyn Stone, an attorney for Boraie Development, asked if the proposals would be made public. Terenik said they would be released soon.
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Boraie, which is trying to build 250 units of mostly market-rate apartments near the New Jersey Avenue site, proposed 150 rental units, 250,000 square feet of retail and 250 parking spaces for the property, Terenik said. The minimum offer to the city was $3.5 million.
Glenn Straub’s Polo North, which owns neighboring Revel, offered to build equestrian fields and a sports dome for recreation and entertainment, Terenik said. Straub’s company urged the city to have a public auction for the property, Terenik said.
Bill Hughes, an attorney representing Polo North, said the city’s proposal process should have “some teeth” in requiring specific details and other conditions, something he tied to the city’s history of redevelopers promising but not delivering on projects.
Hughes also brought up Garden Pier, another property that Blatstein and Straub are angling for. In February, council named Tower conditional redeveloper of the pier, but Hughes said the 90-day exclusive negotiation period between the city and Tower expired Tuesday. Polo North would now like an opportunity to negotiate with the city for the pier, Hughes said.
“We have a plan we think we can complete and complete on time and make a significant contribution with the city,” Hughes said. “We’re ready to put our money down and proceed, and we ask for that opportunity.”
Earlier, Council President Marty Small tabled a vote on an ordinance allowing patrons to carry alcoholic drinks on the Boardwalk.
The policy would allow those 21 years or older to walk the Boardwalk between Albany and Metropolitan avenues with one alcoholic drink in an open plastic container. The drink must be purchased from a licensed beverage establishment adjacent to the Boardwalk and the container must bear the name or logo of that business, according to the ordinance.
Small said beach-block businesses not on the Boardwalk wanted the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal. An expansion of the policy to include more of the Tourism District may be considered, Small said.
“We got phone calls from several businesses that just wanted to be on the same page,” Small said. “They wanted to be a part of the process, and we’ll invite them to a committee meeting soon to discuss this matter and then hopefully vote it out with everyone on the same page.”
Council passed a resolution to allow Boardwalk Tram Service to collect optional donations of 7 cents for one-way rides and 5 cents for an all-day pass.
The trams recently had to start charging a state luxury tax, making the fares $2.18 for one ride and $5.45 for an all-day pass. Patrons of the trams had complained about “the burden of handling the additional change,” the resolution said.
The optional donations, made to a charity of the owner’s choice, will make the fares $2.25 and $5.50.