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A rendering of what Resorts will look like was on display. Gov. Chris Christie in town as Resorts formally announces plans for its Margaritaville expansion. The casino plans to rebuild Steeplechase Pier for a Margaritaville Landshark Bar and Grill. Jimmy Buffett's franchise will also extend into the casino, but Resorts reps have declined to talk about the plans until today. Tuesday, July, 24, 2012, 2012 ( Press of Atlantic City)

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Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-themed restaurant is heading for a Memorial Day grand opening at Resorts Casino Hotel now that New Jersey’s environmental agency has given approval for the beachfront project.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced Tuesday it has issued a state Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act permit, a prerequisite for construction of the $35.5 million Margaritaville Landshark Bar & Grill.

“We are grateful to the DEP for their quick attention to the Margaritaville project at Resorts Casino Hotel and are planning to begin construction in the next few weeks,” Resorts spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham said in a statement. “The Margaritaville project is easily one of the largest initiatives in Atlantic City in recent years, and we are looking forward to being a pivotal piece of the puzzle as Atlantic City continues to grow as a resort destination.”

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Birmingham noted that the project is scheduled to open for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the traditional start of Atlantic City’s peak summer tourist season. It is expected to create 250 construction jobs and another 162 permanent positions.

DEP spokesman Bob Considine said the project fits in with Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to revitalize Atlantic City’s economy with new attractions, including the creation of a state-run Tourism District to oversee the casino zones, Boardwalk and beaches.

“It will provide the Atlantic City Boardwalk with another destination that is vital to the city’s economy, and also will provide an overall boost to the state’s $38 billion tourism industry,” Considine said.

Plans call for construction of a 16,000-square-foot Margaritaville Landshark Bar & Grill on the rebuilt Steeplechase Pier on the ocean side of Resorts. The project will also include tropical-themed landscaping and more than a dozen cabanas, as well as two beach volleyball courts, a bocce ball court, two horseshoe pits and a fire pit. An adjacent surf shop also is planned.

Buffett, the famed singer-songwriter, owns the Margaritaville brand, which was inspired by his 1970s hit record of the same name. Margaritaville-themed projects are already located at other casinos, including Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and the Flamingo on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Margaritaville complex at Resorts is receiving $12.8 million in financing from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a state agency that uses casino revenue for Atlantic City projects.

Resorts’ Margaritaville project will unite Buffett with Mohegan Sun in another partnership. In August, Resorts announced that Mohegan Sun would take over operations of Atlantic City’s oldest casino in a new management deal.

Mohegan Sun and Margaritaville will work together when Mohegan assumes the day-to-day operation of Resorts. Mohegan officials hope to use the Margaritaville restaurants in Atlantic City and Connecticut to drive extra business between Resorts and the Mohegan Sun casino.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission has scheduled a special meeting Friday to vote on the Resorts-Mohegan management agreement. A vote was originally expected at the commission’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting today, but more time was needed to review terms of the deal, commission spokesman Daniel Heneghan said.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:

609-272-7258

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