Bass Pro Shops, the fourth and final planned phase of Tanger Outlets The Walk, plans to start construction by Oct. 1, officials said Wednesday.
The sporting goods store known for its elaborate displays announced plans last year for a new store on a four-acre parcel located on Atlantic Avenue behind Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Officials heralded the development as another game-changer for the city, as the store is known to attract customers from a wide geographic area who will spend hours shopping.
During a meeting with The Press of Atlantic City’s editorial board Wednesday, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director John Palmieri said he recently asked to meet with Bass Pro CEO Johnny Morris to clarify the company’s intentions for building in Atlantic City. He acknowledged that there have been “ups and downs” in negotiations.
“(Morris) said, ‘We’re there, we’re coming, we’re ready to build,’” Palmieri said of the meeting at the company’s offices in Springfield, Mo.
The CRDA has approved $12.3 million in financing for the store, a little more than two-thirds of the project’s $18 million price tag. An additional $11 million over 11 years is expected as a tax abatement plan for the 70,000-square-foot facility.
Developer David Cordish opened The Walk in 2003 on property owned by the CRDA and later sold nearly all of the company’s interests to Tanger Factory Outlet Centers. Cordish Co. maintained the development rights for the fourth phase of the project.
On Wednesday, Palmieri said Bass Pro Shops and Cordish have a lease agreement in place, with Bass Pro agreeing to build the facility. A land disposition agreement between the CRDA and Cordish has yet to be signed but is expected before the end of the month, Palmieri said.
That agreement is expected to address things such as the future of the property in the event that Bass Pro terminates its lease, obligations to find a replacement tenant in that circumstance and other land-use issues.
Bass Pro spokesman Larry Whiteley did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Ashley Miller, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore-based Cordish Co., also did not return calls.
When the project was first announced in August 2012, Bass Pro officials said construction could start as soon as this spring. Palmieri stressed that plans are still on track while there has been aggressive bargaining between Cordish and the CRDA over the final agreement.
“I can say clearly that David Cordish and (the CRDA) have reached agreement on all the key terms,” Palmieri said. “I would tell you if I thought there were any outstanding issues right now with David Cordish.”
Bass Pro Shops operates 58 retail stores in 26 states and Canada. Many have large-scale wildlife displays, large aquariums, archery ranges and antique equipment. What exactly will be inside the Atlantic City location hasn’t been released, but the company has said it will have an extensive boat showroom.
The CRDA has agreed to allow Bass Pro to use as much as one acre of the four-acre lot it owns at Mississippi and Fairmount avenues as the boat sales yard for the store. Within the next few months, the CRDA plans to seek development proposals for the remainder of the lot currently leased to the South Jersey Transportation Authority as a parking lot.
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